Your return on social media investments in 2023 will depend on how effectively your organization adapts to how social media has changed – and keeps changing. Policy and algorithm changes at the major social channels have eliminated many of the tools that helped identify target audience members. That means these channels may no longer be the most effective tools for reaching HCPs or your patients and their caregivers. Instead, consider emerging alternative social channels.
These channels range from invitation-only walled gardens for HCPs to general interest groups to small patient communities. Some organically reach tightly targeted demographics, such as younger audiences or specific patient groups. Many of them showcase the highly visual ways to communicate on social media today. These networks are known for building strong relationships with their communities, which tend to be highly engaged, especially via content sharing and creation.
Alternative social networks could be strong additions to your product or organizational social marketing strategies and help improve returns. To achieve that goal, it’s important to understand how these channels are reshaping the social playbook rules and creative strategies. Here’s a rundown of some of the key trends to know when incorporating emerging social into campaigns:
- Data is critical. First-party data—data created and offered by patients and HCPs— is the engine that increasingly powers social strategies. Healthcare and pharma must build in content features to capture first-party data.
- Everyone is a content creator. Patients, HCPs, caregivers—all are legitimate and valuable sources of content. Many of the alternative social networks gaining popularity encourage and enable content creation on the fly.
- Authenticity is key. People want real connections with real friends and real online communities on social media. Many of the alternative channels offer ways for communities and individuals to interact in real time to capture more spontaneous, less curated content.
- Short-form videos are increasingly popular. TikTok, Twitch, Snapchat and other channels encourage community members to post ultra-short videos—as short as 10 seconds. Yet short-form video is long enough for health and pharma companies to make an impact.
- Social audio. Healthcare and pharma marketers can use audio by running ads on podcasts and being featured as a guest on popular healthcare-related podcasts. Real-time audio chats also have gained popularity and enable information sharing and discussion among invited guests, making this feature an effective tool for both branded and unbranded content.
- Augmented reality goes mainstream. VR headsets are poised to be widely distributed. That will make more sophisticated AR and VR content a powerful tool for healthcare and pharma social strategists.
- Walled gardens vs. open forums. Walled gardens (e.g., Sermo, Skipta, GMed, etc.) are private, gated sites accessed by NPI numbers. These will be especially useful channels for engaging HCPs.
While alternative social channels offer exciting opportunities, not all are of equal value to healthcare marketers. Deciding which channels are worth the investment of time, creativity and budget is the critical task ahead. LiveWorld has developed a unique matrix for scoring the pros and cons of alternative channels. We explain this matrix and provide more information about individual channels, key trends and governance and influencer strategies in our latest eBook, Creating a New Mix of Social Channels & Tactics for 2023.
For insights and resources to help you select the emerging social that’s right for your organization, download our eBook.