Instagram Stories’ appeal for pharma? Familiar platform and no pesky user comments to deal with

Instagram has just made social media easier and safer for pharma. Comments can be disabled on Instagram Stories, the new 24-hour disappearing video and photo narrative postings--and that's a key selling point for pharma companies, industry experts told FiercePharmaMarketing.

“Especially for brands that aren’t in Instagram or Snapchat at all and want to get into it, Instagram Stories is a way for them to get their feet wet as a push-only channel,” said Andrew Grojean, manager of social media at Intouch Solutions. “They can start engaging with consumers and then gradually, as they engage with that community more and more, they can turn it from a push to a two-way dialog.”

Plus, many pharma companies already have Instagram accounts and a solid comfort level with the visually driven channel. While those accounts tend to be corporate, rather than for specific drug brands, drugmakers can still tap an existing base. Instagram accounts can add Stories to leverage the audiences they’ve spent months or years building, rather than starting from scratch on Snapchat, Grojean said. Stories are also an opt-in click to view, so pharma companies aren’t forcing posts on audiences.

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There are some downsides, of course. Brad Einarsen, director of digital insight at Klick Health, said the platform's audience tends to skew young. So, while it's great for those with a younger target audience, it won’t work for every drug brand. And while the fact that the work disappears after 24 hours may please pharma's internal compliance police, it’s a new way of working for brands and agencies that generally focus on work that lasts.

On the plus side, he said, Instagram Stories offer plenty of space for video and images.

“There is a nice combination of lots of landscape for images, lots of time for video and no regulatory risk from user-generated content,” Einarsen said. “Brands should be looking carefully at this as a mechanism to get out video and images that resonate with their audiences.”

Both pointed to patient stories, interviews with healthcare providers and behind-the-scenes video and photos from events and conferences as types of content pharma should be looking to post on Stories.

On the backend, pharma should also use the data and analytics Instagram Stories offers to track interest and figure out what kind of content works well with their audiences.

“Instagram Stories provides a way for brands to see the number of people who have seen their content and which specific users have seen that content,” Grojean said. “I’m excited that Instagram recognizes that marketers want that kind of data to help better engage with our audience.”

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