BUILDING A TARGETED AND SPECIALIST SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO ENGAGE DOCTORS AND PHYSICIANS – 8 MISTAKES TO AVOID.
Communication has never been so easy. We, marketers, have opportunities that could not even begin to be imagined by our colleagues of previous generations.
Previously, the global reach for your message required fat budgets, large multinational teams, long lead times to create content and specialised, hard to find resources. Today you need creativity, curiosity, and the willingness to roll up your sleeves – the rest is easily available.
It has never been so easy and therefore it has never been so hard. Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful and to do this every minute responds to 2 million questions, Facebook publishes 2.5 million posts, 4 thousand hours of videos are uploaded onto YouTube and Instagram shows 200,000 photos. At the same time, we can count 278 thousand tweets, 204 million sent emails, 11 thousand professional searches on LinkedIn and the publication of 571 new websites – just to mention the most popular media. It should be clear that the background noise is becoming a deafening hubbub that can strangle every well-mannered whisper.
In this noisy environment, we healthcare marketers are trying to attract the attention of possibly the most critical and discerning target: doctors and physicians!
Doctors and physicians are especially important because they have two superpowers:
a) doctors can save and significantly improve everyone’s life, and
b) they also control approximately 80% of the country’s healthcare spending budget (in the US this is approximately US$ 2 Million per year).
This means that hospital staff, colleagues, various layers of the national healthcare system, politicians, local administrators, and law enforcement all compete with us in an attempt to attract their attention. And because of this, they became incredibly sophisticated in rejecting what is not relevant to them.
If you are the marketeers or the owner of a small to medium medical device company, then you stand even less of a chance. Pharma marketing staff or other industry giants can easily outspend you; they come from the consumer goods market and have experience of numerous digital communication campaigns, they can pay for expensive agencies and campaigns, they have brand awareness, tools and staff to work on content.
Unfortunately, in addition to these practical disadvantages, we need to factor in a corporate mindset that reduces our chances of winning even further. We are technical people, engineers, we love to showcase all aspects of our product right through to the smallest detail, utterly convinced that, after a virtual demonstration, doctors will see the light and immediately fall in love with it. So, we fill our websites and posts with all sorts of features and attributes, completely assured that we are deploying an attractive sales pitch. Bottom line: what we saw as a great opportunity often turns into a nightmare with campaigns generating little or no traction, limited budgets spent without tangible results and, to add insult to injury, criticism from within our organisation for the disconnect between expectations and the hard reality of actual results.
We know this because we have been there. We have experienced your fear, frustration and, sadly, on occasion, burnout. However, we overcame, and through learning from our own experiences we would like to share 8 mistakes that you should absolutely avoid when building your social media campaign.
MISTAKE # 1: UNDERESTIMATE THAT THE ‘HERO’ IS THE DOCTOR (or the patient):
Instinctively we tend to focus on ourselves, our solutions, our internal processes and along the way we lose sight of the fact that the ‘Hero’ is in fact the person we want to attract and that our own preconceptions can get in the way of achieving this aim.
We need to profile this ‘Hero’, understand their problems, goals, and vision and by so doing show them how to achieve their vision. We also need to remember that physicians generally, by necessity, wear two hats: the doctor’s hat that is interested in the patient’s outcome, and the entrepreneur’s hat that is interested in business. When we pitch our story, we need to carefully consider which hat our physician is likely to be wearing when reading our digital communication.
MISTAKE # 2: UNDERESTIMATE THE AMOUNT OF WORK NEEDED TO GENERATE CONTENT:
The physicians we want to attract are generally smart, successful, and busy people, with a great focus on fact-based content. If we want to engage them then we need to create fully customised and tailored content that is relevant to them. We may share scientific or white papers, we may organise webinars, publish videos, animated infographics, podcasts…… but the critical imperative throughout is that the content is informative, interesting, scientifically relevant – not just an overt sales pitch for our products. Content needs to be well written, loaded with suitable images and headed by an eye-catching title. Never underestimate the positive power and impact of this effort which requires such a significant investment of time, perseverance, and resources. Before you launch a campaign ensure you have a plan as well as the resources to enable you to continue for at least six months – to be truly successful, communication in the digital world must be frequent.
MISTAKE # 3: BELIEVE DIGITAL CAMPAIGNS ARE FREE!
Even if you are focussing on organic campaigns, the content creation described above means cost is definitely not an irrelevant factor. You need to plan to dedicate at least some resources, as well as several thousand pounds per year, to cover things like professional content creation and review, video editing, photo-stock payment, personalised graphics, and any other little tricks of the trade needed to wrap up your content in the best possible fashion.
MISTAKE # 4: FORGET TO ADD HYPERLINKS AND YOUR CALL to ACTIONS (CTAs):
As in everyday life, in the digital world, the selling process is developed on a step-by-step basis that allows us to demonstrate that we can provide value. If marketing’s ultimate objective of a digital campaign is to generate sales leads to pass on to our sales force, we need to have the awareness that this cannot happen overnight. Everyone needs have the patience to build relationships, and Hyperlinks and Call To Actions (CTAs) should be designed to lead and guide this incremental digital rapport. CTAs (which must be placed at the end of every piece of content) should allow doctors to choose the next step forward and decide when it’s time to make digital contact with us.
MISTAKE # 5: BELIEVING PAID CAMPAIGNS WILL AUTOMATICALLY GENERATE RESULTS:
Paid campaigns in the digital world are a conundrum that can be difficult to resolve. Social media platforms are constantly changing the rules of sponsored promotions whilst privacy legislation is ever more burdensome, resulting in circumstances and requirements that evolve almost daily. There are at least three things we need to keep in mind before responsibly approaching a paid campaign.
- Before you deploy a sponsored campaign you need to already have organic activity delivering the same, consistent, message and have developed a certain number of followers to allow the algorithm to work effectively.
- Plan to draft out several versions of your content so that you can select the best possible message to use for your paid advertisement – when going broad every little detail matters and sometimes changing a colour, a word or an image can make or break the success of your promotion.
- Plan a reasonable budget for paid activities: you need to deploy and test all the different options created and still have enough money to deliver the final, and now realistically successful, sponsored campaign. All these iterative phases require a realistic amount of money to be appropriately tested.
MISTAKE # 6: FORGETTING THE DRIVER OF YOUR DIGITAL COMMUNICATION: THE ALGORITHMS
The digital world is driven by algorithms. Almost all web traffic is generated by the Google SEO and the success of your site is strongly dependent upon compliance to Google’s rationale. Our social visibility is directly linked to the media algorithm that will define how many of your followers will see your post or push your video to non-followers.
Understanding the rationale of these algorithms is not only crucial but also a vital strategic portion of our digital strategy that we very often we tend to overlook. There are key rules for both websites and social media posts that must always be taken into account and in a future article we will dive deep into this topic.
MISTAKE # 7: OVERLOOK THAT THE COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGNS BELONG TO THE COMPANY (NOT MARKETING):
In the digital world, network is everything and the best content is useless if the whole organisation does not support the “neural connections” that enable its delivery and does not participate in the content creation. Everyone’s input is essential to the success of the campaign and all corporate functions should contribute by sharing, liking, sending, commenting. Company executives should be the first to engage to show their endorsement and to help propel the whole network (customers, employees, suppliers) towards engagement.
The participation of physicians that have strong corporate bonds through consulting or by developing solutions is equally important, as their endorsement of the campaign increases authority and legitimacy. These physicians are the “influencers” of social media strategy in healthcare and their role and presence is pivotal for the success of the digital strategy.
MISTAKE # 8: FORGETTING THE POWER OF MEASURE AND TRACK
The digital world, far more than the real world, is receptive to the concept of continuous improvement. Think of it this way: If you design a brochure and after the initial print run you realise your message is not clearly portrayed, there is very little you can do about it. In the digital world, you simply edit it and prepare another launch.
This is a great advantage for us marketeers because it allows us to create, deploy, test & measure and improve, then re-start the positive cycle all over again. Measuring the social engagement of every post, analysing, improving and re-measuring is the Hishikawa circle applied to social media.
By avoiding these 8 mistakes, we can guarantee that your social media strategy will be significantly boosted and the visibility of your company will stand out. Although simple, these rules require effort, focus and planning as well as a visionary outlook from the executives or owners to avoid the “everyone-does-it” syndrome.
If you have made one or more of these mistakes, or you are not fully satisfied of the results of your social media campaign, you can contact CommuniD. We are specialists in the Medical Device area, based and focussed on Europe and we can quickly support your campaigns.