Eight ways social media is working in our industry

Social media is helping companies do far more than establish a presence online. Here, Cinda Orr discusses how, in the drug development services and life sciences industries, social media is becoming useful in unique ways.

Social media is part of our daily lives, whether or not we even use it. In fact, every day 44% of Americans are exposed to tweets through other media (television, radio, etc.).1 Whether or not your business is actually engaging on any networks is highly dependent on the industry you’re in. We work in a heavily regulated environment, and because of this, our industry is markedly slow to adopt new marketing techniques. Moreover, if your company is doing well without the help of social media, well, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Social media is a relatively minor investment in the marketing mix, which is also one reason it often fails to yield results for some companies. It’s easy to build a page — to set it and forget it, so to speak. But no social media network is a build-it-and-they-will-come platform for your brand. Build it, feed it valuable content, and then they will come. But what can we feed it? What’s working in our industry?

“No social media network is a build-it-and-they-will-come platform for your brand”

Social media, like digital media, inbound marketing, etc., should be viewed as an ingredient in your greater marketing mix, not as a piecemeal or stand-alone practice. When you think of it like this, it’s easier to see how it can mingle with other departments of your business, and I’m not only talking about sales and marketing. I’m talking about patient enrollment, employee recruitment, demonstrating thought leadership, etc. — things that have sway on internal operations too.

So, what are some ways that social media is working in our industry?

1. Group discussions on LinkedIn

If you’ve never joined a group and participated in a discussion on LinkedIn, jump in. Any member on LinkedIn can create a group to delve into niche topics with other members, which alleviates geographical constraints and is a great way to impart your expertise or tap into others. Troves of scientists, CEOs, project managers and technologists are involved in groups. In fact, the average LinkedIn member joins seven groups. It’s an active dialogue, and group managers can control who is allowed and what gets posted. So a group could be only for your co-workers, your friends, or everybody that wants to participate.

2. Business development on LinkedIn

We find that most of our new clients know LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for business development, but we also find it’s often neglected. LinkedIn houses some formidable advertising options paired with search tools that can aggregate members by job function, industry, seniority, groups, etc. But LinkedIn can help your team do more than get the gist of a potential client’s background. In a survey we conducted in conjunction with Life Science Strategy Group, we found that LinkedIn, by far, is the network buyers of R&D services rely on the most to pre-screen CRO sales representatives. In that study, we also found that ~50% of respondents feel the sales rep has a moderate-to-high impact on their choice of vendor.2 In other words, potentials may be using LinkedIn as a means to vet your team.

3. Trade show and event updates on Twitter

Twitter is one of the tougher platforms for many of our clients to see much potential in. Honestly, the short-form and rushed nature of Twitter feels like it clashes with the drawn-out and explanatory nature of our industry. But this rapidity makes Twitter a great tool for sharing updates on the fly. For example, Twitter is ideal for dispersing information at trade shows, including information on booth attractions, presentations and the locations of events your team members are participating in.

“If there’s one thing that matters in clinical development, it’s patient recruitment”

4. Patient enrollment on Facebook

As the most popular social network, it follows that Facebook offers the most extensive reach to the general populace. If there’s one thing that matters in clinical development, it’s patient recruitment. Facebook’s targeted advertising services make it relatively cheap to get in front of potential patients. However, before running any ads, you’ll need to ensure the language you’re using is forthright and you’ll need your IRB’s approval — a must for any communication with study subjects.

5. Share constructive and exclusive content on Twitter

Ultimately, it’s up to users to curate the content they see on Twitter. Thus, whatever you post must be of interest to them to retain their followership. If you’ve got valuable content to share, Twitter is a quick and easy way to spread it. Share links to articles and invitations to webinars, retweet important news stories and try to initiate a dialogue when possible. In other words, do some of the work for your followers to make your feed valuable to them.

6. Employee recruitment on LinkedIn

Most HR departments are using LinkedIn by vetting candidates who have applied, posting job openings or both. LinkedIn also offers paid job postings to help your open positions penetrate deeper to your most qualified candidates. Beyond that, LinkedIn offers an excellent means to contact candidates’ references, assess their credibility and see endorsements they’ve received.

7. Authorship with Google+

Google allows you to “link content you publish on a specific domain (such as www.wired.com) to your Google+ profile.” Google uses this link to better assess an author’s credibility, rank articles accordingly and incorporate rich content into its search results (such as a picture of the author or rating of the article). Google’s ultimate goal is to add value to its search results. In a 2012 study, Catalyst Search Marketing found that the rich snippets (like the ones Google authorship provide) increased click-through rates by 150%.3 If your company has thought leaders who are frequently posting content, for example, on a blog, setting up authorship is worth your while.

“Produced well, video is a great way to captivate first-time watchers and can be great for SEO”

8. Video on YouTube

More and more companies are placing video front-and-center on their websites. Produced well, video is a great way to captivate first-time watchers and can be great for SEO. Search engines assess time spent on webpages to determine rank, and not to mention, YouTube is a Google product and is now tightly integrated with other Google products, such as Search and Google+. For businesses in our industry, YouTube is an easy way to embed video on a website and make it shareable. Furthermore, businesses can set up their own YouTube channels and create and embed video playlists on their websites. The ability to customize a YouTube video’s branding and controls is somewhat limited, which may lead some to consider another video hosting solution if they need to use video in a versatile way.

Have you encountered more ways social media is working in our industry? If so, let us know in the comments below.


1. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1418091/000119312513390321/d564001ds1.htm

2. ACP-LS Life Science Services Sales Representative Performance Survey, accessible at http://www.scorrmarketing.com/acp-ls-survey.aspx

3. http://www.catalystsearchmarketing.com/how-rich-snippets-can-improve-your-ctr/


About the author:

Cinda Orr founded SCORR Marketing in 2003 after a career spanning more than 20 years building in-house marketing departments for major corporations such as CNS Insurance, US Gypsum and Enterprise and as the director of SECOM, G.D. Searle’s in-house agency. Cinda spent 18 years at Harris Laboratories, where she later became the senior vice president of global marketing for MDS Pharma Services. During her time there, MDS grew to be one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical research organizations.

Based on that expertise, SCORR debuted as a marketing strategist for BBCI and MDS Sciex and was soon given the opportunity to rebrand and relaunch a major site management organization, Radiant Research. Today SCORR Marketing is one of the leading marketing and communications firms for the drug development services industry.

Closing thought: How is social media working right now in pharma?