Challenges and opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry on social media

By Evanthia Anastopoulou | 01 Oct 2021

Social media has become a crucial tool for most industries since the onset of COVID-19, including the pharmaceutical industry. Social gives pharma brands the opportunity to expand and build their business, as well as communicate with healthcare decision-makers. However, as pharma brands take steps to expand their social media presence, it’s important to consider that there are several regulatory challenges facing the industry that might limit them when it comes to communication and promotions.

The accessibility that social media channels provide is helping to tackle such challenges and has enabled healthcare providers (HCPs) to network with like-minded individuals and fellow professionals on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Compared to traditional marketing and targeting methods, social media has become pharma-friendly. It’s enabled pharma brands to use advanced targeting to reach their desired HCP audience, thanks to platforms’ first-party data, which is a very important factor to consider with the upcoming deprecation of third-party cookies. Facebook will further allow such brands to target a specific audience or a practitioner, and promote the most relevant content to them. Through these activities, pharma brands will be able to drive awareness, engagement and, potentially, ROI.

The main appeal of using social media for healthcare practitioners is that they can reach and connect with other like-minded individuals and exchange ideas outside of their current workspace or medical school. This notion has attracted millions of HCPs worldwide to use social platforms to connect with other trusted professionals. According to findings from a MedData Group research, 72% of physicians are active on Facebook weekly and were mostly looking to engage with content such as medical education opportunities (37%) and physician online community information (31%).

Pharma influencers are also on the rise and pharmaceutical brands that partner with them have a big opportunity to tap into more audiences. They tend to have large followings and are seen as trusted authorities for HCPs or consumers seeking advice. According to SocialPub, the social influencer industry will be worth between $5 and $10 billion by next year. Therefore, pharma brands that partner with established and popular influencers have a higher chance of driving awareness, brand recognition, and reach.

Brand managers of pharmaceutical companies and marketers should look to engage healthcare practitioners where they spend most of their time, such as social platforms. As we prepare ourselves for a cookie-less world, it’s important to take advantage of this high-value targeting opportunity that is an established and mainly untapped platform for pharmaceutical brands.