Pharma marketing: 3 things to monitor right now
The world’s biggest companies are using social listening to turn consumer conversations about their brands and products into useful insights. For pharma companies, it is of vital importance to know how their patients experience their products, as well as to protect the reputation of their brand.
Here are 3 things pharmaceutical marketing and communication professionals should be monitoring before, during and after the launch of a new drug, no matter its nature.
The development and approval of a vaccine follows the same process as any other drug, with R&D, preclinical trials, clinical trials, reviews and approvals, as well as the all-important opinion of the public. As you will see from the below examples, consumer conversations can provide these companies with invaluable, real-time insights on consumers and their preoccupations on top of reputational risk and regulatory monitoring.
The 3 areas to monitor are the following:
In the midst of a pandemic and a race for vaccines, competitive benchmarking has become crucial for pharma and healthcare brands. Brands need to not only analyze themselves but also keep an eye on competitive conversations, to learn, adapt and drive successful launches.
However, this is just the beginning of the equation. Consumer conversations contain a wealth of insights, including (mis)information that could boost or sink your next campaign.
When the first Coronavirus vaccines were officially approved in the west in December 2020, key sentiment drivers showed that the public was happy about the news, but some were still wary that the approvals were rushed
Public sentiment, for example, can play a major role in the success of a drug or vaccine. Just look at the current online debates surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines. Understanding different positions will allow pharma companies to create a communication strategy that includes not only praise of the positive aspects of the product, but also responses to common concerns.
“During the initial development stages of our COVID-19 vaccine education initiative, it was critical for us to understand how Americans felt about receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
Through Talkwalker’s social listening platform, we were able to identify the hesitancies giving Americans pause and examine the most frequently asked COVID-19 vaccine questions across the nation. These insights not only reinforced the urgent need for an education-based effort, but also helped shape our communications strategy moving forward.” Nicole Dib, Director, Insights & Analytics at Ad Council.
Visualization of key clusters of conversations surrounding the development of COVID-19 vaccines throughout 2020 - excerpt from Talkwalker’s The race for a COVID-19 vaccine report
A few action points to get you started:
Set up dashboards to monitor your brand and product mentions and measure share of voice. They should allow you to monitor your reputation, as well as to understand the key sentiment drivers for you and your competitors.
Listen to the voice of the customer to:
Pinpoint key trends that may impact the success of your launch
Identify the terms used by patients on social media and beyond to optimize your messaging
Detect the best channels for reaching your target audience
Combine brand listening insights with business impact metrics such as product sales or stock price to identify your game-changing marketing initiatives.
Key opinion leaders can have considerable influence on the outcome of a pharma product launch. Just look at the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine campaigns around the globe: the role of influencers has been key ever since the first vaccines were approved, as public figures like French health minister Olivier Véran and Indonesian president Joko Widodo got vaccinated on camera to highlight that the vaccine is safe.
Vacciné. pic.twitter.com/smhltj74D1— Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) February 8, 2021
Celebrities like Sir Ian McKellen urged their fans to get the vaccine, and on the NGO front, the WHO introduced a campaign asking people to post pictures after vaccinations sporting the peace or “V” sign. Some countries even decided to get Instagram influencers vaccinated earlier as a way to promote widespread adoption. In addition, doctors played an equally important role in the adoption of the vaccine, emerging as the most important influencers along with news outlets in January 2021.
In January 2021, doctors and medical professionals formed the nucleus of our vaccine conversations Influencer Network, while public figures moved to the periphery of conversations
In practice, pharmaceutical companies should actively listen to what key players have to say on relevant topics, as they can play a major role in the adoption or rejection of a given product.
For pharma companies, the lack of information about side effects can be disastrous, as patterns of seemingly unimportant side effects can remain hidden. Yet patients often ignore the long and difficult process to report a side effect and instead take their problem to their online support systems: blogs, forums or social networks. Make sure you are analyzing both internal and external data on the same platform
Track & monitor mentions of potential side effects (your own, and/or the ones of potential competitors) on all channels to improve compliance and product development
Set up individual filters for known and suspected side effects, which can be an indicator of the main troubles patients are experiencing
Side effects can also be tracked by geographic location to reveal potential supply chain bottlenecks or cold chain interruptions that can affect logistics or product quality.
“With many FINN clients in the supply chain management and pharmaceutical industry sectors, tracking the rapidly evolving online discussions around COVID-19 vaccines has been crucial to providing insights to our clients in real time.” Barry Reicherter, Managing Partner, Global Intelligence at FINN Partners
What’s next for the pharmaceutical industry?
As healthcare’s transition to the digital sphere continues to accelerate, pharmaceutical companies need to adapt their strategies to improve service and benefit from new technologies. Using insights from social listening data, brands can make sure they have the flexibility and speed necessary to stay ahead, as well as to optimize their pharmaceutical marketing plan.