Ask the average pharma marketer about their competitors on social and they’ll name a handful of pharmaceutical companies in the same therapeutic area. In reality, they’re also competing with savvy consumer marketers armed with flashy creative determined to reach the same sets of eyeballs.
Therefore, being “pharma good” on social is just not good enough.
Simply put, your social creative and the strategy behind delivering it needs to keep pace with other industries or you risk being left behind.
The good news is that social, if implemented properly, will drive true business impact for health marketers. Read on for creative and strategic tips to up-level your social media game.
Develop Creative That Resonates
All things being equal, compelling, eye-catching creative is still the most important tool in the social marketer’s toolkit.
Regulatory requirements do handicap pharma ads right out of the gate, but that’s no excuse to put out anything other than great work. Aim to deliver “thumb-stopping” creative that resonates with your target audience and the rest will sort itself out.
Here is your creative checklist:
- Data is the great differentiator. Do the homework to learn about your audience and make sure those learnings are reflected in your creative. Use social listening to understand your audience, their attitudes and the language they use to discuss their condition. It’s a whole lot smarter than guessing.
- Be as nimble as your regulatory and legal teams will allow. Testing makes perfect but prioritize tests that matter. Yes, you can test different color backgrounds but is that the most important creative learning you are after?
- Best practices are best practices for a reason – they work! Here are a few:
- Use attention-grabbing images/video to stop users in their tracks. Twitter internal data reports that Tweets with video attracted 10x more engagements than those without. On LinkedIn, posts with photos or video have a 38% higher engagement rate. Creative is the first and potentially only element of your ad that users will see as they scroll – make it count!
- Front load videos with a compelling “hook.” It takes 5 seconds to consume content on desktop and 1.7 seconds to consume content on mobile. We are serious when we say users scroll fast. A video’s opening frames must convince your audience to keep watching. Make sure your message is quickly understandable and that your branding appears early and often.
- Design for sound off. According to Twitter, only 4% of target audiences will click to engage sound. Use text overlays and captioning to move your video storytelling along as the majority of views occur without sound.
- Think mobile. Think vertical. 57% of LinkedIn users, 80% of Twitter users and 90% of Facebook users access the platform from their mobile device. Assume that just about all of your social impressions will come on phones which, you might notice, we tend to hold vertically (94% of the time).
Paid Strategy for The Win
Too often pharma marketers think of paid social as a button to be pressed or a box to be checked after creative is (finally) approved. But the days of simply “boosting” your content are over, or they should be.
For the best chance of success, it’s essential that targeting and paid strategy be in place before creative is developed and that all these aspects are tightly aligned.
A lot goes into developing an impactful strategy but don’t be intimidated by the jargon.
Here is your strategic cheat sheet:
- Campaign objectives determine results. Choose wisely. Be sure to select an objective that supports your true business goal. Social can be a powerful driver of reach and awareness but can also efficiently net lower funnel results like conversions and leads. What is it that is going to move the needle for your stakeholders?
- Look beyond “‘interest” targeting alone. Yes Facebook, Twitter, et al. offer robust targeting built right into their platforms, and yes it can be an uphill battle to gain approval to use first-party (e.g., CRM lists) or third-party (OTC purchasers) data, but it’s well worth the effort. In particular, we advocate for building lookalikes off of first-party lists to use your current customers to find more.
- Facebook is more than just Facebook. Pharma marketers conceptually understand that Instagram is a Facebook-owned property, but few take advantage of Facebook’s mixed placement capability to seamlessly distribute impressions between Facebook and Instagram (not to mention Messenger, Audience Network, etc.) The approach can add scale and efficiency to your campaigns and streamlines asset creation.
- Aim for sustained reach and lasting impact. Many pharma companies dip in and out of paid social but an “always on” approach is needed to drive lasting awareness.
The life sciences vertical is known for its cutting-edge thinking and innovation and this should extend to how it is marketed. There is no reason why pharma needs to be behind the pack in its use of paid social.
With the proper collaboration between agency, client and regulatory, paid social success is within reach.
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