At Intouch Solutions, we’re constantly seeking innovative social ideas to keep our clients on top of the latest learnings and discoveries, and we translate those for the realities our clients face in regulated space. With that in mind, two members of Intouch’s social media team recently traveled to Social Media Marketing World, the largest social media marketing conference in the world. This event brought together more than 2,500 marketers to discuss upcoming trends, new platforms and innovative tactics to help companies achieve business goals. Below, we’ve compiled our top four takeaways from the conference and what they mean for pharmaceutical marketers.

Each Platform Needs a Mission
When deciding what social media platform will be best for a brand, it’s critical to first understand the brand’s objectives and how social media can help meet the business goals. Laura Fitton, author of Twitter for Dummies, gave a great presentation called “How to Define Your Twitter Mission and Execute for Real Results.” While this presentation focused on Twitter, one of her key points applies to all platforms and brands: Each platform needs to have a stated mission, which is a short statement that shares what the handle strives to accomplish and who the target audience is.

The formula for this is: [@OurAcct] is where [who] can find [value offered].

We loved this mission statement tool as a means to succinctly articulate the purpose of each platform in a brand’s social media mix. And we also heard — loud and clear — the subtext of her advice: Resist the urge to pick the platform first. The best platform for your objective may not, in fact, be Facebook or Twitter.

Most of the social handles, pages and channels we manage at Intouch have an external mission statement that explains what the channel hopes to accomplish as it relates to the target audience, which can complement the platform mission statement. By filling out the above formula for each client and platform, everyone is aligned on the overarching goal moving forward and can work together to meet the audience need. That simple task can make a big difference.

Focus on Consistency, Not Quantity
At Intouch, we frequently encounter the challenge of making our client’s social content stand out in a very crowded digital world. Mark Schaefer, author of The Content Code, mentioned in his presentation that data shared will increase 500 times by 2020. That can make marketers want to immediately start creating a massive amount of tweets, posts, videos, etc., to keep up with competitors and stand out in a saturated market. However, Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, reminded us in his presentation that consistency, not frequency, is key. This is especially important in pharmaceutical marketing, as getting large amounts of content is often an expensive and time-consuming process. Brands should choose how many times a week they want to post and stick with it. By focusing on being consistent in the number of times new information is published per week, rather than pushing an overwhelming amount of content at the target audience, success is achieved.

Emphasize Native Video
If there was one recommendation we heard from multiple speakers at the conference, it was this: Post. More. Native. Video. Native video is content uploaded directly to a platform such as Facebook or Twitter, as opposed to being uploaded initially to a third-party site like YouTube before it is shared on another platform. Social platforms give preferential treatment to native videos to encourage users to spend as much time within their platform as possible. The last thing they want is for users to follow a link to a third-party site.

Facebook, in particular, is making a huge push for native video. Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, said, “It is pretty clear that Facebook is directly going after YouTube.” At the F8 conference, Facebook announced that brands will be able to embed videos into blog posts or articles in the same way YouTube allows. Facebook also now provides the option to create playlists, again like YouTube. Facebook has gone so far as to degrade YouTube content in News Feeds and upgrade Facebook videos.

“Facebook is now serving users prompts, like the one shown here, to encourage users to post native videos.”

Several Facebook-specific features hint at the increased importance of video on the platform, the first being the Featured Video option. This setting gives the selected video prominent placement on the timeline. Another example is the fact that Facebook auto-plays videos in users’ News Feeds, which catches much more attention than a static post. To provide context around the growing popularity of video, Stelzner referenced an Ad Age article stating the number of videos showing up in people’s feeds has increased by 360% compared to last year.

Facebook isn’t the only platform moving in this native video direction. Twitter also has added the option for 30-second native videos. The impact of this change means the tight 140-character count has been expanded to 30 seconds worth of content. Stelzner said, “57% of marketers use video, and 72% plan on increasing use of video.”

When trends like this are identified, it is important brands listen and act quickly so they are able to take advantage of the opportunity while it lasts. We encourage our clients with social media platforms to consider creating native videos for their platforms so they’re served up to more fans for more exposure.

Keep Communication a Two-Way Street
Throughout the conference, many speakers emphasized the need to be more human in our social media interactions. One session featuring a panel of experts focused on whether or not marketers are so focused on pushing out content that they’ve forgotten the social side of social media. The panel agreed that content and engagement must work together. Mari Smith, a panel member, said, “Content is king, but engagement is queen — and she rules the house.”

Though tempting to pharmas just testing the social media waters, turning commenting off and, in turn, stopping the engagement component of social is not recommended. With comments disabled, brands appear less human and the information stream only flows one way. Of course, in pharma, leaving commenting turned on is not always wise (or even possible). It is important that brands fully weigh their options, such as allowing monitored and moderated commenting, which many of our pharma clients have done.

Smith quoted Gary Vaynerchuk, who said, “Caring is scalable.” Intouch is making it possible for our clients to be human and care in a scalable way. Pharma brands won’t be able to answer or display every question that is asked due to FDA regulations. However, the panelists emphasized that that is okay, as long as an effort is made to engage with some people. Fans will see the brand responding to fans, which shows they care.

After three busy days at SMMW, there were four key takeaways for brands interested in creating social platforms:

  • Before getting started, state the mission.
  • Plan a content calendar, making sure to keep the posting consistent so readers know what to expect.
  • Add some native videos to increase the reach of posts.
  • Strive to allow two-way communication to humanize the brand.

Following this advice will put brands on the right path for having a successful social channel.