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Social Media: Catching Up to Your Customers

Intouch Team

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Two of my favorite "marketing truths to live by" are:

80% of your revenue comes from 20% of you customers


It’s all about delivering the proper message at the appropriate time via the customer’s preferred channel

At Intouch, these marketing truths are part of our everyday conversations. One validates the importance of customer loyalty, while the other is the method to acquire loyal customers. We strive to identify the best opportunities for our clients to benefit from these marketing beliefs, and we enjoy the challenge of developing strategies that connect our clients to their customers.

Recently, the economy has made marketing even more of a challenge for everyone. But it also has provided certain industries, including pharma, innovative opportunities to promote their products. In many ways, this need for innovative marketing may help pharma marketers catch up to their CPG counterparts in social media, and more importantly, to their customers.

A (Very) Brief History of Social Media

Social media has been around for quite awhile, although many people probably didn’t realize it until recently. Here’s a quick history of mainstream social media:

Mid-to-late 1990s

America Online emerged as the dominant Internet service provider. With AOL, the average user found simple Web sites that rarely provided more than brochures formatted for the Internet. A vast majority of users also found a whole new way of communicating through email and chat rooms.

Late 1990s to early 2000s

As users became acclimated to the Internet, message boards, a nearly-native form of digital communication, grew in popularity. With message boards, the Internet offered thousands, if not millions, of locations for people to gather and discuss their shared interests. As message boards matured, users emerged who displayed a high level of knowledge in their subjects of interest. Many of these new-found experts branched out, creating their own Web sites (otherwise known as Web logs or now blogs) to discuss their specific areas of expertise.

Mid 2000s

The collective of Internet experts, reporters and commentators became known as "The Blogosphere" and immediately showed that they were an influential force, providing news and information as it happened. The need to syndicate information for use on multiple sites grew, and RSS feeds became the solution of choice for many content providers. Social networks, like MySpace and later Facebook, offered members a place where they could utilize most of the Internet’s communication tools to easily share content with friends as well as people with like interests.

Today

Social media has become part of daily life for most people. According to a recent Nielsen report, social network and blogging sites account for one in every 11 minutes online. And social networking among Internet users has surpassed email in active reach — 66.8% of users to 65.1% of users, respectively. Whether they are reading blogs, updating their status, reviewing products, uploading pictures or listening to podcasts, people have integrated social media into their lives and, in many cases, made it their preferred channel.

The Pharma Opportunity

The reality is, as the economic climate changes, pharma marketers have a unique opportunity to catch up to customers’ online consumption, engage them, and stop forcing their corporate sites to do all the heavy lifting of customer engagement online. Using social media to talk to consumers offers meaningful support and quite possibly improves the public perception of the pharmaceutical industry. Accomplishing this requires two things:

1. Integrating social media into your daily marketing routine

Just like the people you are trying to connect with, you must actively engage with social media to truly understand how to harness its benefits and manage its limitations.

2. A long-term commitment to providing and sharing content with customers

Robin Neifield of ClickZ said it best when talking about Facebook: "Make sure the commitment is ongoing and resides in more than one enthusiastic supporter. An abandoned Facebook page is much worse than no Facebook page." This easily could be said about all social media.

It is up to us, as pharma marketers, to identify the best ways to engage our customers. While broadcast, print and PR remain relatively unchanged as marketing channels, digital is an ever-growing channel as people find new ways to talk to one another and share information. And it is the combination, and cooperation, of both traditional and emerging channels that will provide the maximum impact for your marketing messages. As the adage goes, it’s all about delivering the proper message at the appropriate time via the customer’s preferred channel.

For more information on making social media work for your brand, please contact your Intouch Solutions representative, or contact us at getintouch@intouchsol.com.

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