Social media platforms refer to the interaction among the people that involves creation, sharing and exchange of information and ideas in virtual networks and communities. However, use of these social media tools for marketing pharma content is still debatable. The rationale behind this is that the regulatory teams of several pharma companies demand the preventionof comments or sharing features resulting in only a one way interaction,which in turn deprives theessence of social media marketing. However, with the impact of these tools, there is an increased adoption rate of these platforms for strategic decisions.
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Efforts of pharma sector to leverage the benefits of social media tools to widen their customer base, strengthen customer relationship and enhance brand performance further fuels the usage of social media pharma and healthcare marketing. Other major aspects favorable for pharma sector are building investor relations, corporate communication and customer service at the corporate level. The involvement of regulatory authorities in drafting and issuing guidance for use of interactive media for drugs and biologics proves to be instrumental in deciding the importance of social media marketing in pharma industry. For instance,in second week of January 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a guidance draft for industry that needs to fulfill the regulatory requirements for post marketing submissions of interactive promotional media for animal and human drugs and biologics. Through this draft, the US-FDA provided clarity on working with bloggers and content creators to disseminate branded information.
Incorporation of consumer feedback and their experiences would prove decisive for the companies in the course of novel drug development and other crucial strategy building. Hence social media involvements are further expected to increase product sales in the near future. For instance, Novartis has initiated the use of social media platforms to enhance the sales of its over-the-counter drugs such as Comtrax, Bufferin and Orofar. Another illustration for the use of these social media platforms is by Johnson & Johnson that uses these platforms for crisis management during recall of its products. It has used these social media platforms for apologizing to the consumers for irregularities found in its manufacturing plant by U.S. FDA. It is company’s mode of being personally, emotionally and socially in touch with its clients.
The pharma and healthcare social media market can be analyzed by the extent of use of social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, etc. by pharma industries along with benefit and risk ratio analysis of these tools in healthcare. In addition, impact or effect of these tools on healthcare stakeholders such as hospitals, patients/consumers, healthcare professionals and biotechnology companies coupled with a geographical landscape focusing on the popularity of these tools also can be provided. The geographical landscape includes the analysis of four major regions namely North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and RoW.
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The major factors favoring the growth of the market are increased expenditure by pharmaceutical companies for online advertising along with increasing adoption rates of online marketing tools by the consumers. As per few research studies in the year 2012, the overall pharmaceutical and healthcare spending increased nearly by 45 percent year-on-year to approximately USD 1.1billion of which 6 percent represented online advertising costs. This revenue is generated through paid advertisements and subscriptions from various electronic devices and unique IP addresses. On the other hand, the disadvantages and risk factors of these platforms such as privacy and security in question along with improper content validation are some of the issues that might pose the challenge for the growth of the market. Some of the companies engaged in use of social media are Johnson & Johnson, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Inc., Novartis and Bayer AG.