April 24, 2019

Who’s Afraid of Paid Social?

Image of Social Media Logos

Are you doing your brand a disservice by thinking organic social media is enough?

It’s not news that pharma often lags behind other industries when it comes to digital efforts. From websites onward, our conservative field has been slow to adopt new technologies. Today, one of the ways this hesitation is hamstringing pharma brands is in the use of social media advertising.

Missing out on the potential of paid social is a significant mistake. Like all digital channels, it’s extremely good at targeting. Like television, it has extremely high usage (four hours per day for television, 2 ½ per day on social networks). But social is unusually good at getting users’ intent focus: it’s easy to turn on the television and walk out of the room, but much harder to avoid seeing what you’re scrolling through on your phone.

Paid social is also exceptionally good at conveying branded, drug-specific messaging, as well as unbranded messaging such as disease awareness, patient stories, or general treatment information. And, it’s good at reaching all types of audiences: patients and caregivers, but also healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Far too often, pharma brands still hope that they can post social content organically and sufficiently reach and engage their target audiences. In the past decade, that was often enough. But the sophistication with which social media companies have monetized their platforms means that’s no longer a viable plan.

Social media can usher someone through their journey: becoming familiar with a brand, wanting to learn more about it, deciding to test it. It’s not just about pushing awareness; it’s about customizing a message and a call to action for every specific stage of each individual’s journey.

To tell a story well through social media in our regulated industry is extremely possible, but it’s not for everyone. Clever paid-social plans often have multiple objectives. Doing it well takes people who understand not only the social landscape, but also the brand regulation. Done right, it’s phenomenally effective. Longer-form creative experiences allow even black-box brands to tell engaging, beautiful stories on social media while remaining compliant.

In my experience, many brands require a little help educating their legal and regulatory teams to create a level of comfort and understanding with paid social. There’s a historical disconnect between the capabilities of the technology and the average brand’s awareness of its potential. With an understanding of what it is and how it works, however, they’re surprised at the efficiency and performance that they find with their first forays into social advertising.

Interested in learning about whether paid social is right for your brand? Reach out to mike.doan@intouchm.com or your account team.

Mike Doan is Director of Paid Social at Intouch.