8 Answers to Your Most Pressing HCP Marketing Questions

Sparked by impromptu searching to find and share Covid treatment options, the pandemic dramatically accelerated social media usage by HCPs. As a result, social media has gone from a secondary media option to a primary communications channel and a strategic perspective for reaching and persuading HCPs. Recognizing this tectonic shift in thinking and in daily behavior, brands aiming to change HCP attitudes, behavior and clinical choices need a marketing communications partner that is social savvy.

Breakthrough performance requires an agency that understands the science, the clinical issues, the workflow, the lifestyle, and the mindset of the HCPs.

Here are the basic questions about HCPs and what social media pharma marketers are asking.

Are HCPs familiar and comfortable with social media?

Yes. As Baby Boomers play catch-up and begin to leave the stage to younger HCPs — digital and social natives — are relying on social platforms to address personal and professional interests. Huge numbers of HCPs are on the most popular networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Each Physicians-Only platform has a million or more registered users. For HCPs, social media is part and parcel of everyday life and everyday medical practice.

Is the rush to social media just a temporary reaction to Covid-19?

No. It’s a new permanent factor in HCP promotion and communication. Initiated by anxiety, doubt and confusion about effectively treating Covid-19, social media consultations and conversations were critical pathways for MDs to share cases, treatments, and hypotheses. Detailed case material was frequently shared on both public and gated platforms. This credible, new fast-acting information source has been widely used and accepted. Like telemedicine, social media has become a permanent go-to resource in the clinical and practice landscape.

Are professional and clinical topics really addressed in social media?

Yes, extensively in public and private Facebook Groups, in Twitter journal clubs, on digital opinion leaders (DOL) Instagram pages, in gated HCP communities like Sermo, Doximity, Skipta, Medscape and G-Med, and in point-of-care platforms with social elements like Figure 1 and ePocrates.

Can social media drive business results? Can social media deliver positive ROI?

Yes. Social media is measurable and accountable. HCP journeys and treatment algorithms can be mapped and intercepted. Objections and issues can be surfaced and addressed. Brand awareness, product preference, attitudinal change, lead generation, brand advocacy and script lift can be plotted and attributed to social media exposure.

What’s the best way to use social media?

Synchronize social media to support and extend personal and non-personal promotion strategies. Use social media to gauge reaction to messages, address objections and stimulate peer-to-peer conversations about brands. Social media can also be used to articulate the voice and concerns of patients and caregivers, to sensitize HCPs to real world issues and prompt demand. Plan and buy social media as part of an integrated omnichannel strategy. Link social exposure with email campaigns, search engine marketing, programmatic and native media as well as live or virtual events, print or broadcast buys.

What role does social media play in the marketing/advertising mix?

Social media is the early warning radar, the marketplace barometer, and the directional reaction compass for pharma marketers. Social listening finds the attitudinal and behavioral white space in the market. Conversations in social media reflect the impact and resonance of messages and responses to campaigns aimed at HCPs. Commentary, ratings, opinions, and feedback on social platforms point to ways to address issues to improve engagement and persuasion.

Is there a difference in engagement and persuasion between public and private social platforms?

Yes. In general, HCPs participating in gated communities, commonly referred to as “walled gardens,” are more likely to be candid with each other. They also are more rigorous in examining data and clinical evidence, more willing to rate medications, take polls and surveys, respond to case and diagnostic challenges, and be more open to understand or question the opinions and practices of peers.

Can social media be targeted to specific HCPs?

Yes. Social media can be targeted to discrete target populations using CRM, decile analytics and list matching techniques. Many platforms can target by medical specialty and subspecialty using NPI numbers, practice types, demographics and/or geography.

Social media use and credibility by and for HCPs has been firmly established and will continue to expand. Savvy marketers will turn to social channels to launch new brands, reimagine and re-energize existing brands, communicate complex science or clinical data, combat inertia, motivate trial RXs, and build brand affinity and advocacy. HCP social media expertise is becoming a defining success factor for pharma and life science marketers.


Author: Danny Flamberg, VP, Strategy - HCP

Danny Flamberg is a senior marketing strategist and practitioner who has been a pioneer in crafting compelling strategies, devising breakthrough messaging, and embracing omnichannel thinking about broadcast, digital, video, mobile, and social media to support leading and insurgent pharmaceutical and life science brands.


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