Pharma Social Media Conference 2023

19th May 2023 by Becca Norton

We were delighted to be part of the Pharma Social Media conference this year. Dr Felix Jackson our Medical Director took part in the “Winning content” discussion panel and explored how to create consistently compelling, creative and captivating content to fuel engagement and maximise impact with your target audiences. 

The team at medDigital get involved in a broad range of social media activities whether it be in supporting commercial teams in setting up insights discovery, developing and evolving meaningful strategies, writing content, providing training on how to navigate the Code or supporting the development of SOPs and guidance, so it was great to spend a day hearing opinions, examples and ideas on this topic.

Here is a run-down of what we felt were the most useful takeaways from the day.


Think about the digital environment that you want to create.

Encompass other digital platforms and design digital assets which can act as a brick that fits within a bigger ecosystem. 58% of HCPs actively search using google and many spend up to 3 hours a day on social media. Approx. half use social media to keep up to date with news and events and a similar number use it to search and educate. Many HCPs go straight to product websites as they see the best source of information is from the company.

  •           Think content specific not channel specific.
  •           Take a holistic digital journey to increase the chances of interactions.
  •           Catch HCPs at the right moment to engage.
  •           Create consistent touchpoints for that customer.
  •           Ensure the conversation doesn’t end with an offline asset.
  •           Support the promotion of self-care and effective use of NHS resources.


The power of monitoring over time.

Consider the use of tools to monitor different aspects of social media activities such as brand reputation, conversation tracking, campaign engagement, message testing and stakeholder mapping over the long term.

  •           The example of where social listening and monitoring different dermatology patient segments highlighted what was important for testing and treatment formulations. This led to innovative new dermatology products which targeted these population segments.
  •           Monitoring can inform clinical trial design for better uptake by understanding study recruitment obstacles.
  •           Monitoring can be used to raise patient awareness, drive recruitment and capture consents.
  •           Monitoring can also improve our understanding of how to communicate with a disease community.


Work closely with internal stakeholders.

We know this is the recipe for success, but there is always room for improvement. Be brave and informed to have a conversation with legal, regulatory and compliance to challenge the status quo and make social media happen.

  •           Initially approach internal stakeholders with curiosity and interest to understand their world and build strong relationships.
  •           Get buy in by creating your own what it’s worth (WIW) model. By looking at each type of interaction in terms of investment of each unit and the impact of the interaction, you can work out the equivalent impact of investing £/ 100.

o   An example investment £/100k in a digital marketing strategy leveraging HCP touchpoints when searching for prescribing information results in a 100x the HCP reach and therefore an equivalent impact score of 3,200 which compares to 1.7 for a face to face visit.

  •           Align all stakeholders on the objectives, approach and outcomes. Set a single sentence intention together.
  •           Set KPIs which align with business goals but reflect social media outcomes rather than sales targets (increasing awareness, improving company profile, improving reach).
  •           Take stakeholders on the journey. Show the value of social media. Share feedback and examples.
  •           Use the communications team’s expertise in understanding digital jargon.

A key issue is that individuals aren’t clear on what can and can’t be done. Help to build confidence among colleagues by having good SOPs in place with clear guidance on how to engage. Introduce training programmes which include ongoing support, regular updates and opportunities to learn from code case reviews or ABPI updates.


Maximise the potential with SM:

Being more customer centric and moving away from a one size fits all campaign is key. Instead, develop content which looks as though it was written for that individual. Key External Expert (KEE) mapping and persona development can be carried out alongside insight discovery and will allow you to create compelling communications that say what the customers want to know.

Help digital opinion leaders to develop in this space by engaging with them now in the areas that they are already proactive in (e.g., disseminating congress information or patient focussed support) and help them establish themselves as thought leaders. HCPs want to hear from experts.

Streamlining your approval process is vital to being agile on social media.

  •           Prepare and approve as much as possible up front on the back of a risk workshop (pre-approved posts, responses to comments).
  •           Approve dynamic content separately that can be dropped into the environment (Get in touch to talk with us more about this).
  •           Set up pre-submission meetings to explain why things have been done.

Video is king as this is the most popular media that can be replicated and repurposed differently across many channels (shorts, podcasts, quotes, global use). Patient videos, in particular, are a gift that should be maximised as much as possible, both internally and externally.

Develop social media polices and guidance which support the best use of platforms.

  •           Facebook for patient support.
  •           LinkedIn for corporate HR and professional targeting.
  •           Instagram for disease awareness for younger audiences.
  •           Twitter for education and awareness.

HCPs are using more varied social media platforms to access information. Globally there are a diverse range of HCP specialities who use TikTok with psychiatrists setting the trend. TikTok Health currently has over 600 million views and is a growing opportunity to engage.

LinkedIn includes over 26 million HCP users and provides an extensive range of HCP specialities for excellent targeting abilities. It is widely regarded as a professional platform, can include multimedia options and its medical education event offering may be a new opportunity to explore.

Twitter is also an important platform that 640k HCPs are registered with. Images, videos and infographics are recommended to offset the limited word count. Tweetorials provide CME accredited education which may be an interesting alternative to the traditional webinar, allowing up to 5k individuals to interact with your content.

Use social medial to be more patient centric.

Patient centricity has to be right at the beginning of every thought process with, for example, a research phase carried out during the activity planning stage.

  •           Consider a more consumer-based approach.
  •           Expand to be family centric.
  •           Understand how patient groups’ needs differ and tailor messaging accordingly.
  •           Communicate something that people will understand.

You can help reviewers manage their own risks and concerns, by explaining what patients have told you, what they want and why content is being communicated in social media activities. You could also use SM insights to get organisational leaders to understand the patient experience.


Maximise the use of influencers.

Influencers are proactive, informed and authentic individuals who use their personal health journeys and digital prowess to inspire, educate and empower others facing similar health challenges.

  •           They are more important than ever before and are becoming professionals who are paid for what they do.
  •           They evoke more conversations online, they hold more influence, are trusted credible sources of information and are becoming more collaborative across government, pharma and among communications agencies.
  •           There are the small and mighty who are making just as big an impact as those in the public eye, who’s role can be used in areas such as clinical trial design, to bring in a perspective on the disease, to build communities, awareness and in the example of Spinal muscular atrophy, reverse a NICE reimbursement rejection.

The PMCPA social media guidance also provides the industry with more detail of how to work with influencers compliantly.


What will the future of social media look like?

The challenge is now big data. With growing numbers of total social media posts for each pharmaceutical organisation, there need to be solutions for how this data can be managed and accessed. Other challenges include the processing of:

  •           Diverse data – different content types, discussions, networks, emojis etc.
  •           Siloed data – understanding the context through combining insights from different types of analytics.
  •           Non-compliant data – finding and monitoring hidden information.

Artificial intelligence (AI) aided practice is starting to become integrated into healthcare solutions, with use growing in areas such as the identification of patient suitability for clinical trials.

The feeling is that over time AI will be used to improve data transparency, completion, and keep data secure. AI could be pretrained on HCP behaviour or feed directly into digital channels. Ultimately digital is a way of life for the youth of today which will evolve to become more sophisticated and open new and innovative opportunities.


If you’d like to explore any of these themes in more detail with us and see where we could help, please get in touch.