It’s no secret that social media has transformed advertising capabilities across-the-board in all industries. While social media channels were once primarily consumer-focused, they’ve shifted toward a heavy enterprise focus during the 21st century. 

Social media has become a major advertising channel with major opportunity for companies to reach business goals. With advanced targeting capabilities that enable marketers to reach potential consumers based on their behaviors, demographics or interest groups, social media advertising can ensure that companies are making the most of their marketing dollars. 

Around the world, over 3.6 billion people are using social media—and this number is only increasing. By the year 2025, it’s expected that 4.41 billion people will be using social media regularly.

It’s safe to say, companies that aren’t advertising through social media are missing out on the chance to connect with their consumers, increase sales, increase website traffic and boost their overall return. 

Especially in the pharmaceutical industry, where there’s a high volume of patients and healthcare professionals ready to engage, advertising through social media opens plenty of doors for pharma companies to reach key stakeholders.

Key Stakeholders are Active on Social Media 

Consumers are seeking to engage. Pharma companies don’t have to reinvent the wheel or drive their audiences toward social platforms. Both previously diagnosed patients and those in the symptom research phase alike are actively seeking medical advice and medical opinions, and they’re looking to connect with other people who have similar symptoms or health conditions.  

28% of people who use social media for personal reasons also support a health-related cause through social media.

Another major group of key stakeholders, healthcare professionals (HCPs), are using social media for healthcare purposes too:

  • “90% of physicians use some form of social media for personal activities.” 
  • 65% of physicians report using social media channels for professional reasons. 

Both HCPs and patients can be reached through social media networks. 

Patients are already connecting through support groups and advocacy groups on social media platforms—especially Facebook. Pharma companies can use this as an opportunity to better serve patients and improve the patient experience.

We use social listening tactics to gauge social sentiment around brands in general and to understand the public perceptions of their treatment options and treatable diseases. 

These insights into how key stakeholders are perceiving the brand and what type of information they’re seeking are incredibly beneficial to figuring out how to better serve these communities and tailor resources provided accordingly. 

Needless to say, patients and HCPs of all demographics are giving pharmaceutical companies plenty of invaluable chances to build connections and share critical information. 

Pharma companies that aren’t leveraging social media to advertise treatments, share disease education and other critical healthcare initiatives are missing out on opportunities to benefit patients, caregivers and HCPs through outreach efforts, and as a result, missing out on opportunities to drive website traffic, gain new prescribers and increase sales.

Heavy Regulations Bring Substantial Challenges

So why isn’t every pharmaceutical company taking advantage of social media advertising when there’s so much opportunity on these platforms? Because—full transparency here—it’s difficult. 

Pharmaceutical companies have to walk a tightrope, navigating the many FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulations and FTC (Federal Trade Commission) limitations. Without an experienced pharma marketing agency helping pharmaceutical companies to balance the tightrope and ensure that all messaging stays within the necessary guidelines, advertising can be challenging. 

This is why tons of pharma companies aren’t using social media to their maximum advantage. Having to jump through hoops to ensure that all messaging is within FDA guidelines is an arduous process that discourages a number of drug companies from breaking into the social advertising arena. 

When marketing pharmaceuticals, companies must be candid and honest about health information, including drug side effects, drug efficacy and safety information. Drug advertising requires careful compliance.  

Your pharmaceutical company needs a marketing agency that knows how to navigate heavy regulations and leverage advanced advertising capabilities. Effective social media advertising in pharma requires persistent attentiveness and expertise in regulatory compliance. 

We have a deep understanding of federal regulations, and we have years of experience creating strategic pharma ad campaigns that deliver results, while complying with guidelines.

Effective Pharmaceutical Ad Strategies

Advertising on social media channels requires a different approach than advertising through traditional methods, such as TV or print. Social media is centered around people, connections and communications. 

Consumers on social media want to connect with other consumers who have similar interests, similar backgrounds or similar healthcare challenges. Social media is revolutionary in terms of engagement potential. Pharma brands, representatives, patients and physicians can interact and engage with one another, from locations around the world, in seconds. 

The process of finding viable patient populations, disseminating treatment information, recruiting patients for clinical trials or spreading awareness of specific diseases and treatments can be made even more efficient through use of social media channels. 

While traditional advertising methods still hold a valuable place in pharmaceutical marketing, they’re generally not as engaging, interactive or convenient for the intended audience as social media advertising. 

DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) Advertising is on the Rise

DTC advertising is now more integral to an effective pharmaceutical marketing strategy than ever before, as both HCPs and consumers are taking to the internet to gain new medical information. 

Physicians are becoming less accessible to pharma sales reps over time, making it critical for pharma companies to have a plan for direct consumer advertising in place.

Over the past decade, sales reps’ accessibility to HCPs has decreased by about 40%. This is largely due to physicians seeking medical information from the internet. Most HCPs don’t have time to meet with a sales rep. The internet can be a convenient, reliable, time-efficient resource for HCPs to attain medical information—no sales rep necessary.

This shift presents a valuable opportunity for healthcare brands to advertise where HCPs and patients are already active.

So, where are healthcare consumers present on social media?

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Reddit

Five years ago, TikTok, Snapchat and Reddit probably wouldn’t have made that list. That’s how quickly these social media platforms are emerging—especially among the millennial age group. 

Staying up-to-date on recent trends and consumer behaviors is essential for pharma companies. That’s why we’re persistent and calculated in our market research. We stay on the cutting-edge, integrating technologies that give us insight into who your target audience is, where they’re active and what type of content they’re pursuing.

Most of these social channels have unique, sharp targeting capabilities that enable pharma companies to show their consumers relevant ads at the perfect time. 

Personalization is Key

Through social media advertising, pharma marketers can find patients through a focused, highly-targeted lens, based on geographical targeting, targeting based on age, interest, gender or profession. 

This capability enables companies to not only advertise on the social feeds of their specific target audiences, but also to personalize their messaging appropriately to resonate with different patient populations and patients located at different points in their patient journey. 

Social advertisements (especially Facebook ads) can’t be too personal due to strict regulations, but they can feel personal to caregivers, patients and health care providers who are already scrolling through their social media feeds.  Advertisements integrated effectively and strategically into their news feeds can feel native to consumers. 

Interactive, engaging content, GIFs and short, visually-appealing videos can blend seamlessly with surrounding content. Because social media is a ‘person-to-person’ channel, seamless integration is essential. Advertisements that differ visually from organic feed content  can suffer on these channels. 

Effective advertising puts people at the center of the messaging, not necessarily the brand or the treatment. This approach is especially conducive to driving desired behaviors in patients, resulting in greater treatment adherence and greater engagement with healthcare information. 

Social media algorithms also favor personal, conversational posts, as opposed to branded business posts. This is why influencer marketing has proven advantageous for pharmaceutical companies and is playing a major role in the advertising industry, especially in recent years. 

Using influencers for organic posts allows pharma companies to bypass the paid ad restrictions that Facebook upholds for pharma.

With the current prevalence of social media, there’s no shortage of influencers who either have the targeted disease themself, have used the treatment being launched or re-marketed, or are willing to be a spokesperson who advocates for the disease or treatment.

How Good Apple Can Help

Social networks offer plenty of opportunities for pharma companies to communicate with key stakeholders and strengthen their brand reputation amongst the communities they support to establish a strong, trusted presence.

Pharma companies need an advertising agency that has the experience necessary to navigate the heavily regulated industry, to stay on top of social media trends and changing algorithms, and to build meaningful connections through personalized content that compels consumers to take action.

From market research and social listening, to unique audience targeting methods and the development of ad creative that aligns with consumers’ behaviors and interests—we bring a comprehensive approach to pharmaceutical advertising. 

We use our social listening capabilities and deep market research to stay in tune with the conversations happening around your brand and within your entire industry. We know which platforms your audience is using and the type of information they’re seeking, based on their demographic and geographic characteristics. 

We use every insight to continue improving our future strategies and adjusting our approach along the way.

We partner with other award-winning agencies to create an end-to-end social experience, carefully developed and thoughtfully detailed to maximize the impact of your ad campaigns. This includes custom strategies that aim to maximize your budget through retargeting campaigns and insights derived from the most applicable KPIs and success metrics, all the while helping to position you as a leader in your industry.

We’ve been developing and running successful paid media campaigns for more than a decade. Over the years, we’ve driven success for a number of  pharmaceutical companies, both small scale and large scale. We have the expertise to know what works in social media advertising, what doesn’t work, and how to maximize investments for every type of pharma company.  

We are persistent in refining our strategies to maximize ad effectiveness. Through the process, we’ve learned that a human-centric approach produces the best results. Lucky for us (and you), a human-centric approach comes intuitively to us.

Humans are at the center of everything we do – whether our employees, our clients, or the communities they serve – the paid media campaigns we put together are no exception.  

We’ll ensure that your messaging builds a personal, ethical connection with your audience, while your ad formats maintain modernity and drive the greatest return on investment.

When we say we’re industry leaders, we mean it. We’re proud to have implemented multiple pharmaceutical industry firsts, and we’ll continue to do so. We’d love to have you as a partner and drive similar success for you. .

Let’s work together.

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