Social media is a bold frontier in pharma marketing. It's not exactly new — it's been part of the advertising landscape for nearly two decades — but it's constantly in flux. The pharma marketing rules, technologies, and power centers change much more quickly than they do on other channels.
It's also more balkanized. You can run the same TV ad on a sitcom, a cop show, and the news, but you absolutely can't run the exact same copy on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.
That said, there's some requirements for advertising medicine and care on social media that apply everywhere. In this article, we'll share a few of those with you.
1: Keep your copy consistent
On the internet, your potential customers are likely to see your messaging in multiple places. Your instinct might be to vary the tone of each ad substantially in order to fit with the feel of each site.
While going native is important, you don't want to look like you're trying to be all things to all people. Customers want to buy into a consistent story. Start with your brand narrative, and find ways to adapt it to each channel -- people can tell if you're going the other direction.
2: Listen to your customers
Social media sites give marketers an unprecedented level of access to their customers. On Facebook, for example, paid ads can direct visitors to a branded page, where they can talk with others about symptoms and treatments. You can watch those conversations, discover what's important to your customers, and incorporate that information into your ongoing campaigns.
3: Leverage multimedia
Video ads are widely used online, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. For example, consider building an ad campaign around animated GIFs, which are cheaper and lower-impact for the customer. Interactivity is the newest trend, getting users invested in their own ad experiences.
4: Monitor for ad fatigue
Audiences are advertised to relentlessly these days, and they're easy to burn out. This goes triple when your audience is small -- say, the patients of an uncommon disease.
Unfortunately, it's possible to cause ad fatigue even after you've changed up your images and copy. Make sure you're monitoring your analytics for rapid drop-offs in engagement from the same users; if you see this behavior, consider backing off in favor of a lookalike audience.
5: Pick your ideal audience
Everything that a user does on social media helps build a profile of who they are, from sharing photos on Instagram to RSVPing to Facebook events. This makes it easier than ever to segment your ideal audience.
It also gives you backups. If one audience isn't showing the metrics you'd like, you can move on to larger lookalike audiences. You can (and should) also use customer data to retarget people who have interacted with your brand in the past.
6: Respect your customers' privacy
Engaging with customers on social media is similar to approaching potential clients in real life: you don't want to come on too strong. In the same way ad viewers can tell when you're being insincere, they can also easily point out when their personal information is being used.
Technology lets us target treatments to people who need them. But it's best to go about it like a concerned friend, not a salesperson going after them at a time when they're not receptive.
7: Stay compliant
At the moment, FDA regulations and HIPAA do not significantly regulate social media ads. However, regulations can change swiftly, especially as more attention focuses on an issue. The best way to avoid compliance risk is to be legally literate, making sure the content of all your ads conforms to existing regulations.