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#pharma needs to grasp the power of UGC

Marketing is changing. Today the power is shifting to the consumer, deciding what they want to consume and where and how they want to consume content. How can #pharma grasp the power of UGC (user-generated content).

What is UGC (user generated content)

Why is UGC important in marketing today

  • It is trusted more than traditional advertising
  • It is more authentic 
  • People trust people

What are some of the challenges for #pharma for using UGC

  • Regulatory and legal
  • The need to have a team in place that will monitor, track and engage
  • Requires a different approach in order to succede in this field
  • Agility and speed and are important in order to grab consumer attention
  • For a traditional large organization democratization of content is challenging because they are used to a more controlled advertising and messaging

How can #pharma over come the challenges

  • Publish a content policy
  • Let the audience know what is allowed and what is not
  • Seek permission in using UGC
  • Acknowledge and give credit

A priority for #pharma and for a successful UGC campaign

  • Have a team in place
  • Make sure the team is organized and assigned specific tasks:
    • Create a UGC campaign
    • Track UGC campaign
    • Engage with your UGC audience – once people start to engage someone needs to respond
  • If needed make adjusts to UGC campaign
  • Make sure it all happens with authenticity

Running a UGC campaign, points to keep in mind for #pharma

  • Listen to your audience:
    • What are they talking about
    • What is relevant to them
    • What do they care about
    • What problem are they trying to solve

can #pharma work with influencers

The following article was shared on LinkedIn The latest Instagram influencer frontier? medical promotions, Big pharma is partnering with influencers to sell new drugs and medical devices. by Suzanne Zuppello got a lot of people commenting. In my opinion, #pharma should not work with influencers to promote their products. However, #pharma does not have an array of influencers within its own organization, that can help communicate the core values and success stories of the organization.

Employees are social media influencers

  • largest asset in any organization is it’s employees
  • it makes your company human
  • it also enables you to reach a broader and diverse audience
  • it can support engagement efforts

CEOs are social media influencers

  • a human being creating a human connection making you a better leader
  • it builds trust – people trust people
  • it builds authority – you become a thought leader in your sector

Company researchers are social media influencers

  • research is the core of your business communicate this to your audience
  • enables a platform of discussion and dissemination of research findings 
  • enables focus on impact of your research findings on impact of daily life

Company HRs (human resource) are social media influencers

  • allows to create contacts that a company may never have have come in contact with 
  • allows for increasing job posting visibility
  • allows for opportunities to come in contact with *passive candidates* (those not actively seeking)

Corporate is a social media influencer

  • it can be a very powerful executive voice
  • reflects and speaks your core corporate values
  • builds your reputation
  • great for customer service
  • allows for responding when being pulled into political and social causes

#pharma so what do you want to accomplish with social media

The first question you need to ask yourself with social media is, what are your objectives? You have a sales target but what is your social media target?

Is it just an extension of your traditional advertising?

  • Remember TV ads are designed only for TV
  • Are people watching your ads on social media
  • Do you ever ask yourself why would anyone click and watch this
  • Are your social media and traditional media complimenting each other (as it should be)

Is it about telling the latest research?

  • Are you posting research in a timely manner
  • Are you presenting scientific data that people can understand
  • Are you dedicating time to producing and curating research content
  • Social media is an excellent forum for discussing research

Is it about employees advocacy?

  • Remember employees are your greatest asset
  • Employee advocacy can: 
    • Increase brand reach and greater audience
    • Humanizes your brand
    • Support engagement efforts
    • CEO participation on social media is important

Is it about promoting your success?

  • Are you producing content that is useful and relevant for your audience
  • Are you producing content to promote yourself (aka vanity content)
  • Are you looking for validation or engagement on social media

Is it about engaging with your audience?

  • Do you know who your audience is
  • What do they care about
  • Do you interact with them
  • Are you building a community

planned authenticity is it for #pharma

In their book LikeWare: The Weaponization of Social Media and in their interview P.W Singer and Emerson T. Brooking talk about planned authenticity. What is planned authenticity? Is it something that #pharma can learn from? If yes, then how can they use it?

Definition of planned authenticity?

  • According to P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking authors of LikeWare: The Weaponization of Social Media: planned authenticity is personally engaging with followers, fans, or audience but doing it in a manner that the world is watching with the double goal of 1) mass scale broadcast and 2) creating an immediate one on one 
  • It is about being real online

Who using planned authenticity?

  • Taylor Swift
    • She isn’t fake, she harnesses the power of online authenticity
    • She scrolls through her IG feed learning about the lives of fans and tapping into meaningful comments
    • She even coined her hashtag #Taylurking
    • Comments from Swift are real: driver’s license, breaking up with  boyfriend

How does it work?

  • Need to understand your audience
  • Need to listening to your audience and what they are talking about online
  • Need to engage with your audience

Would it work for #pharma?

  • People (employees) make up the #pharma organization
  • Employees are real people that can engage with people online
  • Employee advocacy #pharma’s biggest asset encourage them to connect with people online

What can #pharma learn from this?

  • Are your messages really having an impact and creating connections with your audience
  • People want to connect with people that are authentic and real
  • Online audience can spot content, people and brands that are not authentic

social content as an extension of #pharma traditional advertising

#Pharma still continues to see social media as an add on of traditional advertising. There needs to be a communications strategy that will combine social media and traditional media. Call it a modern communications plan.


  • Communications or PR staff would write a press release
  • Send to traditional media outlets (journalists, TV, radio)
  • Hope journalists would pick up the story
  • No relationships with the audience was formed

Social media

  • Bypass traditional media filter
  • Allows for fast and easy access to information
  • Allows for instantaneous information
  • Provides for a two way conversation
  • Has allowed for consumers to express themselves

How is #pharma using social media today

  • Still looks like an add on, that is content is not adapted for social media
    • still TV ads on social media (TV ads are designed only for TV)
    • Are people watching your ads?
    • Do you ever ask yourself why would anyone click and watch this?
  • Social media content is still an uncreative process
    • content should be designed for social media
    • try to limit vanity content

What are some of the challenges today for #pharma communications staff

  • PR or communications will have to let go of controlling the message
  • Will need to respond to the wants and needs of the audience
  • Will need to understand how the audience is using social media and traditional media together

How can #pharma combine traditional and social media to benefit the organization

  • Social media and traditional media should compliment each other
  • Traditional media will allow for a broader audience whereas social media a more targeted audience
  • You are providing options for your audience with both social media and traditional media
  • You cover more generation span 

#pharma are you keeping an eye on new social media trends in engagement

Let’s take a look at how social media engagement has changed just within the last couple of years. #pharma are you on top of this?

Social media bypasses traditional media

  • Basically bypassing the broadcasters & mainstream media and filter bubbles
  • Therefore many people turning to social media for primary news source
  • Social media also enables content makers to publish their content again avoiding filter bubbles

Social media controls the news cycle

  • Audience can select information depending on their interests and values
  • Again bypassing the filter bubbles

Social media is more instantaneous

  • Which provides for instant engagement
  • More rapid information sharing
  • Instantaneous dissemination of news, images, audio, video and multimedia content
  • People upload photos/videos for people to view, read and comment on

Messages on social media are short and emotive

  • Thoughts expressed in 140 characters
  • #Hashtags are important and allow to follow information of interest
  • Emotions also bring people to share or interact on social media

Social media encourages people to speak their minds

  • It provides a two way conversation
  • Allows people to express themselves in ways that were not possible before
  • People’s voices are no longer lost
  • People are not afraid to share what they really think and feel

#pharma did you know women dominate influencer marketing

One of the most interesting aspects of influencer marketing today is that it is dominated by women. What can #pharma learn from this phenomenon.

What is influencer marketing?

  • It is a collaboration between a brand and an influencer
  • In a nutshell influencers use products, give authentic and honest reviews and receive audience feedback
  • Being an influencer is a profession today

Why are women leading the pack of influencers?

  • Social media loves personal stories and women are more likely to share personal stories
  • Women are the vast majority of users on social media platforms
  • Biggest categories for influencers are fashion, fitness, food, lifestyle and travel – biggest users within these categories are women

Women influencers and content, what can we learn?

  • High posting rates (up to several times a day)
  • Content is highly curated and professional
  • Women influencers are obsessed with quality more than a schedule

How do women influencers build a community?

  • Valuing engagement more than metrics
  • Being authentic
  • Being transparent
  • Being who you are
  • Creating personal connection with their audiences

How do women influencers build their brand?

  • By showing passion for what they do
  • Asking yourself why do you want to tell a story
  • Asking yourself why are you the person to tell this story
  • By being authentic
  • Creating high quality content, photos and videos

#pharma social media is an evolution, be open to the journey

Social media platforms are very dynamic and constantly evolving. Events or things you did not plan for or did not foresee in your social media strategy can throw you off. #pharma needs to be flexible, be quick to adapt and be open to the journey.

Some changes on social media platforms include the following

  • Mobile first
  • People turning to social media for news first
  • Getting harder to stand out and get your audience’s attention
  • Announcements are no longer made on traditional / conventional news channels

Privacy concerns and transparency

  • Repeated scandals of tech and social media platform companies
  • People concerned about privacy issues / data and how it is being used
  • Trust and accountability

The power of the audience is growing

  • Citizen journalism is growing
  • Being at the right place at the right time
  • Being pulled into political issues (e.g. call for boycotts)
  • The need to respond quickly

The coming of influencers

  • Influencers, vloggers and bloggers have turned into the new celebrities, therefore, the creation of influencer marketing
  • Consumers, however, are also not naive to the fact influencers make money
  • The need for transparency of influencers and brand relationships

Physicians are becoming more outspoken on social media

  • One tweet was enough to bring an online grassroots movement by physicians (#ThisIsOurLane and #ThisISmyLane)
  • Beginning to see a new generation of doctors not afraid to express themselves on social media platforms

what can #pharma learn from the fashion industry about social media

Fashion industry has been experimenting with social media platforms for a while now. Here are some observations #pharma can learn from the fashion industry about social media platforms.

Power of the audience

  • Fashion is being shaped by the consumer
  • Influencers (people) create their own *fashion trends*
  • Because of this influencers are gathering a large following

Social media is an engagement tool not a sales tool

  • Develop a strategy that engages with your audience and does not sell directly


  • Fashion is always exploring new ways of working with fashion influencers
  • Influencers are the key to keeping people interested and wanting to follow the brand or influencer
  • Fashion understands the importance of tapping the reach of influencers

Traditional forms of marketing are starting to get *old*

  • Many fashion houses realize this and are looking for new innovative ways to market to their audiences
  • The fashion industry is searching innovative ways of connecting with audience without pushing a product 

Each social media platform can do something different for your brand

  • Each platform is continuously evolving and changing
  • Pick one or a few platforms and develop those well
  • Have a social media strategy for each platform in place

#pharma and hiring through social media

Social media platforms allows for tapping into a large pool of potential candidates. How can #pharma attract the right talent using social media platforms.

What are some of the benefits of social media recruiting?

  • It allows for creating contacts that a company may never have have come in contact with
  • It allows for a company to see beyond just a written resume (I am not referring to stalking and checking candidates) 
  • It allows for increasing job posting visibility
  • It allows for opportunities to come in contact with *passive candidates* (those not actively seeking)

Which is the best social media platform for recruiting?

  • IMO all platforms provide a source for finding excellent talent
  • Each platform brings with it different demographics and creativity
  • Do not limit yourself to one social media platform
  • Do not focus on just the traditional big three FB, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Do incorporate: YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest

What are some ways to find candidates and connect on social media platforms?

  • Use hashtags
  • Join a community
  • Join a TweetChat
  • Follow influencers
  • Get your employees involved in the process, this will broaden your reach and audience
  • Experiment new techniques and platforms
  • Build relationships early on not only when you are just looking
  • Create engaging content rather than just plain posting
the traditional corporate job posting
a more engaging job posting

Do you have a social media recruiting strategy?

  • Every company should have a social media recruiting strategy
  • Recruiters are responsible for creating the social media recruiting strategy
  • Make sure to track and analyze everything and use data to fine tune
  • Each social media platform should have its own dedicated strategy section: content should be adapted to each social media platform 
  • Track your analytics from each individual platform:
    • Which platform gives more engagement
    • Which strategy has engaged most people
  • Is it aligned with your employee advocacy strategy
  • Is it aligned with your corporate strategy
  • Keep in mind: how active is your company (corporate handle) on social media platforms

I was once asked “Can influencers be hired as employees”?

  • My response: No
  • An influencer is one that has social clout or currency
  • Influencers are experts in their fields 
  • Influencers can help you move your content
  • Influencers can help with access to a different audience
  • Influencers should not be considered an employee
  • On the flip side do look within your organization for those employees that are influencers – they reflect the company culture and are passionate about what they do and can help in reaching potential candidates