As of 2011 there an estimated 800 million Facebook users, that is 1 in every 9 people on Earth, but pharma and healthcare companies beware – simply having a presence on Facebook won’t necessarily increase sales or referrals to your website. Get your Facebook strategy wrong and you could find yourself having to implement a damage limitation plan as GSK found itself doing. With the right tools, used strategically, you can make Facebook an effective part of your marketing strategy.
Here are our 5 Facebook tips for you to consider.
1. Research your audience.
The first thing you should do is define and research your audience’s use of Facebook when creating a Facebook marketing strategy. If it is consumers then think about the information that those consumers need to help them treat their condition or purchasing decision or the kind of after sales support they might need once they’ve bought your products. If you’re a pharma company and you only sell prescription-only medicines (POMs) then it will be the GPs that will be prescribing the drugs and so although the consumers are the end-user, they won’t be the sole decision makers. So, marketers should examine ways to increase the opportunity for contact between HCPs and patients/consumers through the creation of new health/condition focused Facebook pages that enable those audiences to talk with other patients/consumers as well as with physicians on a range of topics from personal experiences of illness and treatment through to education.
2. Build a relationship with your followers.
People use Facebook to socialise and find answers to questions, not to “friend” a blood sugar monitoring device. If pharma and medical device companies are to earn the attention of any modern customer, they should provide valuable information as opposed to simply just asking that community to do things or give away personal information. “Information” includes accurate details about their products, including side effects and risks, new product updates and any other key pieces of information that will help the user get the most of that product in a safe manner. It’s also important to open up a dialogue with your followers and ask then intelligent questions. Listening and responding to feedback from that community is a key part of any successful Facebook strategy and one that will show that you do value them. Be honest and transparent, your audience are savvier thank you think and if ‘Marketing’ or ‘PR’ are maintaining your Facebook presence make sure they have the appropriate back up from product experts to help respond to more ‘technical’ questions.
3. Add a “Like” button to your website and newsletters.
OK bit of an obvious tip, but adding a “Like” button to your website is a good starting point to help promote your Facebook presence and it can also help to build ‘social strength’ which can benefit your search engine optimisation strategy. However, take time to consider where to place the buttons. Think about how you can integrate them into the customer experience and encourage sign-ups with a strong call to action. Users are more likely to click a “Like” button when they know what’s in it for them. Don’t be afraid to test, track and adjust this tactic to help improve the results.
4. Avoid sending mass messages to your network.
Most users will tend to ignore ‘hard-sell’ oriented marketing messages and so this tactic should be avoided if you want your supporters to stay connected to you in the long term. Should you be compelled to send a message, make sure it offers something of real value or offers your followers the ability to contribute to something that can benefit them. Clearly state that value in the message subject line and avoid general brand messages and announcements, or you’ll quickly lose the trust of the community.
5. Do measure the right metrics
It’s important that you focus on the right metrics to measure when reporting on your Facebook activity. So what are the right metrics? We suggest you create a marketing dashboard that will enable you to measure these 3 things: 1) Engagement; 2) “Likes” and 3) Growth.
Engagement can be measured by the number of conversations taking place; the number of repeat visits and the number of pages viewed per visit. Measure the number of “Likes” you receive each month. And in terms of growth, measure the number of followers you are getting so you can plot your own “S” curve. You’ll want to measure if your following is growing, peaking or shrinking.