In September, Intouch’s social media insights and analytics team attended the 2015 Realtime Marketing Lab Fall Tour. The event brought speakers from around the Midwest to share strategies and solutions across marketing disciplines. Much of what we heard reinforced the practices Intouch already has in place, but the conference was a great opportunity to dig a little deeper and hear not only presenters, but also clients sharing their stories and concerns. Following are some highlights from the day, filtered through our pharma marketing lens.

It’s Not the Destination; It’s the Journey
During social landscapes and audits, it’s important to understand how particular audiences (like patients and caregivers) are talking about a certain treatment or disease state. Scoring and scaling prospects as they progress through the “sales funnel” is a technique that can be applied to social listening to identify and evaluate influencers in the social space. Evaluating where these audiences are in their journeys may help strengthen analysis and provide more actionable, strategic insights. (We’ve written about and shared our approach to patient journeys in the past; learn more here and here.)

Old Is New Again
Consumers are four times more likely to trust a social advocate than an ad, so leveraging old-school, word-of-mouth marketing is essential for conveying brand authenticity in a cost-effective way. Pharma marketers need to think about social in human terms (conversation vs. broadcast) and “ignite the community to share a brand’s message in a way they want to.”

Keep It Simple, Sweetheart
We live in a 140-character world. Asking three simple questions can help brands make their messages stand out.

  • Why should healthcare providers and patients care about your product/service?
  • What unique value are you offering?
  • How do you want your audience to respond (i.e., ideal next steps)?

After these questions are answered, marketing teams can help brands craft memorable messages.

Listen and Learn
All social listening projects should begin with a business question. The first goal of listening should be to find qualitative trends in complaints or needs, then address them. Strong business questions should aspire to find insights that:

  • Educate
  • Fill unmet needs
  • Identify potential solutions for complaints

It’s also important to remember that just because doctors or patients aren’t talking about specific brands doesn’t mean they aren’t talking about their associated needs and actions.

Can You Relate?
Fifty percent of executives aren’t convinced that social media can provide much impact on their marketing plans. Providing analogies and comparisons may make it easier to explain the benefit of social. For example, email and social marketing work better together than apart, much like peanut butter and chocolate in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Also, including analogies with pictures, stories and statistics to construct balanced, whole-brain metrics can make arguments more compelling.

Time Well Spent
Throughout the Realtime Marketing Lab, we were reminded of the same thing we tell our clients: social media is not a one-way “push” channel. Social is about cultivating relationships with users. These relationships help build brand advocates and brand loyalty — and increase sales in the long term.