As much as social media has been readily adopted by business, healthcare has been reluctant to follow in light of regulatory concerns and lack of formal guidelines. A recent article by Kevin Popovic & Chauncey Smith appears in Volume 3, Number 2 of the Journal of Communication in Healthcare to explain the current use and limitations of social media throughout the industry.
Tweeting @DoctorWelby: Practical Examples of Social Media in Healthcare provides an overview of how healthcare business is currently using social media – some more successfully than others – including Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Motrin, WellApps, Susan G. Komen and The Cleveland Clinic.
Kevin Popovic, Communications Director of Ideahaus® and Author of Satellite Marketing™ explains, “ There is a considerable and justifiable amount of perceived risk for any healthcare organization when evaluating the potential rewards that this direct channel could provide. The lack of a clear position or guidance by the FDA on the use of these tools in promotion complicates the adoption process for most organizations. Admittedly, satisfying the concerns of an organization’s medical, regulatory and legal stakeholders in this environment will be challenging. Pioneering companies that will allow marketers to build a stronger affinity with their consumer base using these technologies will be well positioned to harvest a wealth of consumer insight through this emerging communication channel.”
Today’s average consumer of any healthcare product or service is an incredibly empowered individual in the selection of which providers will deliver their services[i]. Whether your need is for an orthodontist or an over the counter analgesic, there is information immediately available on the web to help support their decision making. The challenge is that it is difficult for many consumers to decipher which sites provide the most clinically accurate content. As pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing organizations begin analyzing their current communication strategies and tactics, a common question is emerging: What are the opportunities, if any, for the effective use of social media in such a highly regulated and scrutinized environment of healthcare communication?
We believe that there are immediate high yield opportunities for healthcare marketing and communication professionals to consider when evaluating the potential for social media in their communication plans. This article will benefit any communication professionals that have a need to effectively engage consumers of healthcare products or services. Our objective is to describe the role and influence of social media as an integral part of the modern communication plan.
As Mangold & Faulds suggest, the promotional mix is expanding to include vehicles the organization and its agents have not typically had to utilize in the past (see Figure 1). As many agents will be new to social media as the organizations they support, there is a considerable and justifiable amount of perceived risk for any healthcare organization when evaluating the potential rewards that this direct channel could provide. The lack of a clear position or guidance by the FDA on the use of these tools in promotion adds to the complication in the adoption process for most organizations. Admittedly, satisfying the concerns of an organization’s medical, regulatory and legal stakeholders in this environment will be challenging. Pioneering companies that will allow marketers to build a stronger affinity with their consumer base using these technologies will be well positioned to harvest a wealth of consumer insight through this emerging communication channel. Considering the degree of trust social media provides when compared to traditional media, social network generated customer recommendations and blog posts and micro-blog consumer opinions can be an organization’s greatest marketing force[ii].
Responsible communicators are asking which channels are available for prospects and current customers to contact their own organization today. Is their company positioned where their target markets already gather and communicate online? The objective of this article is to share our research, our experience and our resulting strategy on how to implement social media sites, services and applications in an efficient manner, within a controlled budget, on a regular schedule.
Co-Author Chauncey Smith, Chief Marketing Officer of MarketSMITH Services includes, “We believe by citing academic references of social media, applying current business intelligence and using the concepts described as “satellite marketing” we can share a perspective for knowledge gathering, strategic decision making and relationship development using social media sites, services and applications, and that is much more than most of these businesses have today.”
Kevin Popovic`´ is Founder of Ideahaus®, a creative communications group that helps clients build their brands and increase sales. With studios in Pittsburgh and San Diego, he serves key accounts as an adjunct Communications Director to develop communications plans, lead teams, and develop creative messaging. Kevin has a BA in Communications/Psychology, MS in Multimedia Technology and has extensive graduate studies within the field of Instructional Technology.
About MarketSMITH Services
D. Chauncey Smith is Founder of MarketSMITH Services, LLC. He has more than 20 years’ healthcare marketing and business development expertise. MarketSMITH Services provides contract marketing and business development services and include: market research and analysis, brand development, business management and interim management services. Chauncey has a B.S. in Marketing from the Ohio State University
[i] Herzlinger RE. Consumer-Driven Health Care: Implications for Providers, Payers, and Policymakers. San Francisco (CA): Jossey-Bass Publishers; 2004.
[ii] Nielsen Wire. Global Advertising: Consumers Trust Real Friends and Virtual Strangers the Most [document on the Internet]. Nielsen 2008 [cited 2009 Dec 15]. Available from: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/consumer/global-advertising-consumers-trust-real-friends-and-virtual-strangers-the-most