The healthcare industry going social

We all know that the use of social media is hot nowadays; not only by people, but also by companies. Also within the Life Science & Healthcare industry, this trend is becoming more important and more and more companies also integrate social media within their corporate strategies. In the article “Bringing social media on board” , Darren Spevic discussed this trend extensively with several experts in the field, including Robert Dossin, our global head of Life Sciences & Healthcare and Managing Director of our London office.

It’s a complex new world after all

Although there’s a need in this industry to engage with this new ‘social’ world and that there are already some companies who adopt a social media strategy, the engagement with social media is still in its infancy. In the view of Robert, there is still a long way to go because social media is neither integrated into the marketing function nor the business as a whole. Appreciating the true potential of social media tends to stop at the level of Marketing Director. There seems to be a feeling that the regulations governing communications in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors somehow legislates against its use in the industry.

Doing nothing is not an option

According to Robert, the Life Sciences industry must change because social media provides far greater access to key stakeholders and enables more effective decision-making and better policy-making. Social media has to play a role in research and development where it can provide a perfect counterpoint to ‘scientists working blind, in a world governed by molecules’. Another advice Robert gives to the industry is to be bold. Effective engagement on social media can provide invaluable insights into a changing world which is now populated by empowered consumers and patients. It’s the intelligence of those people that will enable better decision-making at all levels. Consequently, social media presents a lot of opportunities and challenges for this industry. It’s important to establish contact with customers and patients and reach beyond immediate decision-makers. With this in mind, Life Sciences’ companies should be looking to do some or all of the following:

  • Recruit a digital marketing director
  • Train and enable staff in the art of social networking
  • Bring in knowledge and expertise from sectors where the use of social media has evolved
  • Explore the opportunities for cross-fertilisation with FMCG and OTC parts of the business
  • Collaborate with external partners who are experts in the field
  • Engage directly with the teams that run social networking tools

Let’s move this industry forward!
Following the advice of Robert, the industry needs to make a greater effort to be open-minded and learn from other sectors. It is important to find ways to acommodate social media skills within the team and ensure key people have  training. Next, there may also be a good case for importing Interim Managers from outside the industry to share their knowledge and skills. In this way, the industry gets the best of both worlds!

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