Executives from Top 50 Pharma Companies Rate Their Social Media Engagement
Miami, FL (March 30, 2010) Although the pharmaceutical industry as a whole is known to be a heavy user of technologies, it may surprise many to discover how pharma companies individually perceive their own social media awareness and the extent of their engagement with customers through social media sites. For the size of the industry, the resources at its disposal, and the presence of already existing online communities, their involvement to date has been almost non-existent. According to oft-quoted figures, it is estimated that packaged-goods companies are spending about 10% of budgets on social marketing initiatives, while pharmaceutical companies may devote less than 2%.
This March, Medimix International presented at two international pharmaceutical marketing conventions in Berlin and Mexico City, speaking on the formulation and implementation of social media strategies. During the sessions they polled the audience about their social media adoption using a custom matrix defined along two axes: one for social media engagement of their customers and the second, the pharma industries’ own awareness of social media.
The four quadrants and five categories were qualified as follows:
1) Pioneer – defined as an industry fully-aware and with customers actively engaged in social media
2) Ostrich – defined as an industry that is not aware of social media, despite having fully-engaged customers
3) Prisoner or Thinker – fully-aware but not engaging its customers either for legal concerns, or because they are over-rationalizing how they should do it.
4) Neanderthal – an unengaged industry dealing with customers who are also unaware of social media
Around 400 industry executives in the audience representing the top 50 pharma companies were asked in which category they would place their own company. Sadly enough, the percentage in Berlin who identified their companies as Pioneers was notably low—only 3%, and comparable to what was observed in Mexico (5%). In Berlin, over 32% of the audience (compared to 40% in Mexico) felt their companies were held back by over-thinking their decisions, and as a result not actively participating in social media. They were followed not far behind with 28%, who as Prisoners wanted to be involved but were wary of the legal implications, and 25% as Ostriches, whose customers were engaged but who have chosen to ignore the phenomena and its potential. And then there were the 11% who rated themselves and their customers as Neanderthals and dangerously place themselves at the bottom of the technological evolutionary scale.
When asked where they located themselves individually on this matrix, the results were dramatically different, perhaps because they were interested executives who already counted themselves in the social media camp. Over 40% identified themselves as Pioneers, but interestingly the figure for the Thinkers category remained close to their company’s tendency (28% for the individuals vs. 32% company).
Faced with the fact that 97% of the executives felt that their companies were not active participants on the social scene, they were then asked to identify the most important skills that a community manager should possess. Surprisingly, "medical knowledge or credibility" scored only 17%, much behind "interpersonal skills", the most sought after value which garnered 67%. "Interest in technology" and "business acumen" both rated a low 8%. Since medical acumen rated so low on the scale, one conclusion that could be drawn and the solution offered would be for these companies to hire social media experts from outside the industry.
But at the end of the day, if hiring statistical analysts to data mine the blogs results only in endless, lengthy reports, then pharma will have missed an opportunity. There must be clear processes set up to act upon these insights, track results, and follow through by developing a dialogue and building online relationships with their customers.
About Medimix International
Medimix International is a dynamic provider of advanced marketing research solutions for the healthcare industry worldwide. Medimix’s proprietary panel provides direct access to more than 500,000 physicians and healthcare professionals from around the world, making it one of the largest panels in the industry.
Medimix has invested heavily in applying research services in the fast growing on-line arena and for the social web. Medimix recently introduced: Scanbuzz, a social media monitoring platform for life sciences industries, currently tracking top 200 pharmaceutical products and 100 corporate brands in a variety of therapeutic areas. Clients may monitor their own choice of brands, disease or conditions, or any concept they are interested. VoxMed, a worldwide online community for the medical profession where physicians and healthcare professionals may discuss clinical symptoms, treatments, and prevention.
Medimix specializes in global marketing research. Learn more at www.medimix.net.
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