Pharma brands must leverage Facebook

For some of us, it doesn't seem long ago that Facebook was that thing our kids used that we didn't understand.

Right from the start, however, experts both within and without the pioneering social network predicted it would be the new frontier for growing brands. Pharma is no exception. At last estimate, there were over 6 million Facebook groups focused on healthcare and medicine, commanding a total membership of over 70 million.

Clearly, no self-respecting marketing plan can leave those views on the table. But what's the best way to access them?

In this article, we'll explore the ways Facebook is now indispensable for pharma marketing — and predict how the platform will continue growing in the face of new obstacles.

Why healthcare practitioners can't ignore Facebook?

There's a common misconception that Facebook is only for young people, who engage with the pharma industry in much lower numbers. Not true. While teens are leaving Facebook, its share of over-55 users keeps growing.

For that demographic, medical information is one of the primary uses of the internet. Many grandparents ask their Facebook friends about a symptom before they ask their doctor.

That gives pharmaceutical marketers a responsibility — to make sure these people and their doctors have accurate medical information — and an opportunity to tap into the enormous potential for engagement and revenue in Facebook communities.

Facebook advertising also reaches Instagram, and through it, a different yet equally high-potential audience. Then there's the convenience of being able to drive ad visitors to a branded page on the same platform, where they might otherwise bounce due to an unexpected change of scenery.

Facebook as an ad platform for healthcare companies

Pharma marketers can advertise through Facebook in two ways. They can purchase paid ad campaigns, or they can create pages and groups, and try to build traffic organically.

Free pages are great for building communities around your brands. People who have been positively impacted by your treatments can exchange their stories, compounding excitement around what you're selling.

However, pages are best when you've already started building awareness. To bring people into the first stage of your funnel on Facebook, you need paid ads.

Facebook's ad campaign manager isn't ideal for companies of all sizes. It's built around freeing busy small business owners from spending all their time marketing, with options that let you control the purpose of each ad campaign — you can target sheer reach, work to build traffic, capture leads, etc.

If you're a larger firm with a marketing department, you'll want to exert more control. For these companies, the biggest advantage comes from analytics. Facebook's real-time data lets marketers swiftly adjust their budgets to target new opportunities or pull campaigns that aren't working, saving money while increasing agility.

Watson Clark and Facebook

Our marketing teams at Watson Clark consider social media to be a vital means of reaching both HCPs and patients. We fold the Facebook toolbox into highly customized campaigns tailored for our clients, granting a finer level of control on a larger scale.