Scoring digital marketing in pharma

Sean Johnson

HCPLive.com

Being a pharmaceutical brand manager these days is not easy. The pure nature of the industry is risky, with such high competition, brand managers must constantly come up with innovative ways to market their brand in order to separate themselves from the pack. Because, let’s face it, if companies can’t successfully market their brands, they are subject to massive layoffs, as we have seen several times in the past.

Not even the biggest pharma companies are immune to these layoffs, meaning that any brand manager must always be looking over their shoulder at the revolving door as motivation to do their job more efficiently than the next guy/girl. Fortunately, we live in a digital world, and those that how know how to utilize the many resources this medium has to offer will always have some degree of job security. However, sometimes new media savvy isn’t enough these days.

 

“Social media: two words that, when mentioned to a pharmaceutical brand manager, will either make them cringe or smile”

 

Social media: two words that, when mentioned to a pharmaceutical brand manager, will either make them cringe or smile. Why the stark contrast? Because from company to company, social media rules and regulations vary drastically. The lack of rules and regulations on social media from regulatory bodies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can be thanked for these varying approaches.

In the meantime, pharmaceutical companies and their brand managers have two options: dive into social media, use it in a “responsible” way, and hope that the FDA doesn’t reprimand their efforts, or ignore it altogether. It would seem that the former option is far superior, without making an effort to embrace this powerful medium, companies will fall far behind once the FDA’s much anticipated social media laws are enacted. However, in an otherwise highly regulated industry, the risk is just too great for some companies until the FDA lays down some crystal clear regulations. In the meantime, other companies will adopt the “touch and go” approach, where they’ll test the social media waters and risk a slap from the FDA. But which companies are which?

L2, a “think tank for prestige brands,” recently conducted a study (http://l2thinktank.com/Digital_IQ_Pharma.pdf), the point of which was to assess the “Digital IQ” of several pharmaceutical brands. A specific grading system was used to determine the score of each brand, and this system took into consideration site effectiveness, digital marketing efforts, visibility, and social media presence, with all of these factors being weighted differently.

 

“…without making an effort to embrace this powerful medium, companies will fall far behind once the FDA’s much anticipated social media laws are enacted.”

 

The results of the study are truly eye-opening, and give a much-need glance into where some of the biggest names in pharmaceuticals stand when it comes to an online presence. I strongly encourage anyone in the industry to carefully read the study, here are some of the highlights that stood out:

? Traffic to branded pharmaceutical sites increased 82% last year

? Although 80% of parent companies are starting to dip their toes into social media, only 19% of pharmaceutical brands maintain a presence on at least one site

? Brands that market to younger consumers have higher Digital IQs

Setting the bar:

? Johnson &amp, Johnson’s YouTube channel has been viewed more than 1.6 million times

? Gardasil human papillomavirus (HPV) awareness Facebook page has more than 100,000 fans

Some interesting statistics on branded sites:

? 85% offer a doctor discussion guide

? 62% offer little or no community content

? 57% offer savings for first-time prescriptions

? 47% have an unbranded site

? 26% have no access to customer service

This is really the tip of the iceberg. The study also provides charts based on calls to action, Digital IQ and age of onset, health portal and branded site traffic, and much more.

Kudos to L2 for a job well done.

Where does your brand stand? Will it achieve “genius” status by this time next year?

About the author:

Sean Johnson is the managing editor of HCPLive.com, the “preeminent destination for healthcare professional online.” He also authors the blog Avatar Newsletter, which focuses on new media marketing. You can reach him at sjohnson@hcplive.com.

How high is your brand’s digital IQ?