I usually come across pharmaceutical presentations and their use of social media. In their talks I have noticed they always refer to social media and how they are “educating” the patient. I never hear them refer to “engaging” with the patient. Is this because traditional pharmaceutical companies are still using a “push” marketing model? Pharmaceutical companies should continue to inform however they also need to engage.
What do we mean by engaging?
Merriam Webster defines engaging as “very attractive or pleasing in a way that holds your attention.” The social media community refers to engaging as a “two way conversation”
What do we mean by educating?
Merriam Webster defines educating or to educate as “ to provide with information.” When pharmaceutical companies refer to educating they are referring to offering disease-specific education information aimed at patients, consumers and healthcare professionals.
So why does pharma always use the word educate and less so the word engage regarding their use of social media?
I think it starts with social media was made for people in mind and not really for businesses. Think of sites like MySpace and LinkedIn in 2000 and Facebook and Twitter in 2006. These sites created a new way for people to communicate and share with each other. But I truly believe the main reason is that pharmaceutical companies are still in a one sided “push” of information approach. In order to be an integral part of engagement, they definitely will need to open their communication and listen to the consumer.
So what are pharmaceutical biggest fears for not engaging?
Social media platforms are increasing and there are several channels to provide information and education. Many pharmaceutical companies fear that being involved in social conversations will increase the number of adverse drug experience reports and force them to conduct investigations that could be costly and damaging.
What needs to change for pharmaceutical companies to start using more the word engage?
Social media platforms provide for an easy way to exchange information and above all dialogue. In order for this to happen there is a great urgency to rebuild the pharmaceutical business model and mindset if they truly want to “engage” with the consumer, patient and healthcare professional on social media.