Pharmaceutical marketers are recognizing that smart content marketing and distribution strategies can facilitate a level of “safe” social media activity that moves the needle regarding customer interactions with a brand. While some pharma marketers have cautiously tiptoed around this territory for years, many now see the need to give in to undeniable market forces and experiment with updated content strategies and tactics. Although pharmaceutical social media is still restricted in many respects, there are good examples of healthcare web properties that have mastered content marketing and content curation to engage and activate customers.
The online properties that best lend themselves to social interaction and sharing are unbranded or lightly branded assets designed to win trust by providing unbiased disease and lifestyle information and tools. Five years ago, JUICE Pharma Worldwide worked with Pfizer to create HemophiliaVillage.com. In many respects, a resource center for hemophilia patients and their caregivers, it leveraged an array of social events and related content to create a pioneering ecosystem for anyone trying to figure out how to live with hemophilia. The offering includes a wide variety of content in the form of graphic comics that appeal to teenage boys, academic scholarships, videos, advice about how to deal with the disease in social situations, content resulting from meet-up events for hemophilia patients and caregivers, and the HemMobile app for logging and tracking infusions and bleeds and staying aware of general health and wellness issues. The experiences are highly shareable and extended on Facebook and Twitter.
In 2015, JUICE collaborated with Pfizer to update the National Hemophilia Foundation’s website, StepsforLiving.com. This robust website provides games, interactive tools, videos, downloadable checklists, and surveys that all serve as compelling content about living with hemophilia. Again, the content on these sites is designed to be shared by the community.
At the recent Digital Pharma West conference in San Francisco, Alison Reichert, Pfizer’s Director of Corporate Digital Strategy, presented several captivating websites that use smart content marketing tactics to leverage social media interactions. WomanOn.com is a beautifully designed site for women experiencing menopause; it offers a balanced, upbeat but realistic approach to dealing with what for many is a serious condition that impacts lifestyle and relationships. WomanOn.com uses a combination of sharp photography and bright, colorful illustrations as an inviting gateway to an array of interesting content. Essentially an ecosystem for hot flash management, WomanOn.com links content through Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube to create an immersive, shareable experience that goes far beyond a traditional website. The idea is to create a “my menopause” experience that is unique to the user while conveying a sense of community that normalizes menopause.
QuittersCircle.com is another Pfizer property that follows a similar approach to creating a wide-ranging support system for smokers who want to quit the habit. This unbranded website uses bright, striking graphics that are friendly but believable, creating a “non-nagging” experience that is loaded with support materials. Again, the experience expands the traditional website ecosystem, transporting the user to interactive opportunities on Facebook and Twitter.
Each of these sites use traditional resources such as video, interactive tools, and educational resources. But they represent an important step forward for pharmaceutical marketers who know they have to provide opportunities to share and engage on a peer-to-peer basis. They provide real-world, non-promotional content along with traditional support resources. The goal is to keep the content as fresh as possible, providing, for example, at least 3 new Facebook posts a week.
When dealing with the realities of pharma’s regulatory processes and FDA guidelines, it takes a lot of planning and coordination to distribute content that is consistently appealing and compelling. A month’s planned content can be batched and put through MLR all at once, creating a just-in-time archive of material. Random events create unplanned content that still require regulatory involvement in many cases—but the latest FDA draft guidelines provide mechanisms to manage such instances.
The evidence supporting the use of content marketing and social media is convincing. 42% of Americans use social media to get health information. Social listening tools make it very clear that healthcare consumers are talking to each other in huge numbers, offering medical advice—sound and unsound—and openly sharing their experiences. At the same time, pharma still lags far behind other consumer marketers when it comes to digital strategies and tactics to reach their audience. For example, 80% of pharma marketers rely on print ads to reach consumers, while only 16% of non-pharma marketers rely on print.
The good news is that smart pharma marketers realize that market forces have changed the game with astounding speed and are increasingly open to engaging with their customers on the customer’s terms. “Return on Engagement” is replacing traditional ROI models, and the “Consumer Engagement Loop” is replacing the traditional purchasing funnel and its “push” methodology. If these trends continue, it’s a new day for impactful healthcare advertising.