Monday, July 27, 2009

Using Social Media in Health Sciences

It's no big secret -- marketers in the health sciences are certainly not pioneers in the field of social media marketing. To put it simply, marketers in the health sciences are control freaks and many of these marketers perceive social media as an evil marketing tool that requires them to forfeit all control of their product or brand. I understand the concern -- the health sciences are constantly being monitored by regulatory administrations like the FDA. Major pharmaceutical companies like Abbott, Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson have a lot at stake if negative feedback is made public about their products.

****Newsflash, health marketers, SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT AS SCARY AS YOU THINK!****
(if you know how to use it properly)

The first step for marketers is to decide if your target audience is using social media and whether or not they will benefit from using social media. The perceptual map below was developed by Forrester Research and serves as a good gage as to whether or not your product might be a good fit in the realm of social media.

Remember though, KEEP YOUR INTENDED TARGET IN MIND! For example, individuals with diabetes might benefit from using social media, but their participation in social media is low. Or is it? Those with Type I Diabetes, or Juvenile Diabetes, are a much younger demographic and are much more active in social media than those with Type II Diabetes. So, while this map is a great starting off point, it is important to always keep your target audience in mind.

Once you've determined your target market and their rightful place on the Forrester perceptual map, it is time to decide how much you are willing to risk with social media. Below are three approaches Forrester Research suggests for using social media in the health sciences:

If social media still makes you nervous, no worries. Baby steps are just fine. In fact, it is a good idea to start out slow, measure your social media efforts and progress if things are going well. Give social media a chance and good luck with your efforts. Social media isn't going away anytime soon, so you might as well embrace it.

Look to these sites for inspiration:

To learn more about Forrester's research on social media and the health sciences, visit:
Follow-up: Similar Post from Ad Age (8/3/09)

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