The world has changed. The way we communicate with each other has changed and the tools we communicate with have changed.
This change has happened so quickly, mainly over the last five years. The speed of the change has meant that many life science companies have been slow to recognize and embrace the new media and are getting left behind.
Social media can no longer be ignored; Facebook has over 500 million users globally and has surpassed Google in the amount of time per day spent on the site. Twitter has over 200 million users who sent a staggering 25 Billion tweets in the past 12 months. You tube has over 24 hours of video uploaded per minute and exceeds 2Billion views per day!! Those are just three examples but there are many many more.
Social media is here to stay and its time we, in the life sciences started doing things differently. A paradigm shift is underway in the way we communicate with our customers. In today’s age, everyone is a publisher causing an explosion to the amount of content on internet what does this mean for the life sciences industry?
- Conversations about your company are already happening. Your customers, your competitors, your investors and your employees past, present and future are already talking about you online, conversations are already happening with or without you. The question is – do you want to be involved and engaged in those conversations? Do you want to be able to listen to your customer’s views and react to them? Do you want to see what other companies and colleagues in the industry are saying? Do you want to see what your investors are betting on you?
- Current methods of communicating with your customer are expensive and intrusive. Gone are the days where marketing is an intrusive process of interrupting your customers experience with an advertisement in a journal or flooding their inboxes with your email campaigns. As a marketer in a leading genomics company I can tell you the holy grail of marketing is getting the right message to the right customer at the right time. In Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical marketing today, finding and engaging your target customer is costly and inefficient with a relatively low ROI. How do we do this today? Many companies in the life sciences still spend the majority of their marketing dollars on print advertising in journals. The hope is that their target customer will pick up the journal, will actually pay attention to the advert and then what ?– will pick up the phone and call you? How often does that happen? How about buying targeted lists? Doing literature searches for names? Keeping an up to date CRM with your current contacts? Email campaigns? Most email blasts are seen as Spam and go to junk or spam folders. (In Europe you aren’t even legally allowed to send email blasts without your customer having opted in first) Most of your email blasts are never actually seen by your target audience. Typically you get a 3% click through rate if you are really lucky, have a good call to action, have said something groundbreaking or are offering something of high value to your customer. You can see where I am going with this; the current methods of engaging and qualifying your customers are inefficient, expensive and highly intrusive to your customer.
- Biotech Marketing 2.0 Is about having conversations and listening to your customers Now imagine if you could talk to an audience of your target customers who have voluntarily chosen to listen to you. What if they recommended you to their friends and colleagues and told them to listen to you too to help propagate your message? What if they answered all the questions you ever asked them and gave you honest feedback on your product or service? How about if they could tell you in real time what user requirements are most important to them in your future products? What if they could tell you about novel ways that they are using your product that could open up new markets for you? What if they published a paper using your technology and had a quick, easy and cheap way to tell the world about how great your technology is? What if your customers could do the marketing for you – there is no stronger endorsement than a recommendation by a friend or colleague. What if you could see what is being said, not only about your company but also about all your competitors simultaneously? What if all of the above could be done using free web based tools? You may think this is Utopian and too good to be true, but it’s real and it’s here and its social media that makes it possible.
- Everybody is doing it. We have now reached a critical mass where all sectors of the life sciences are now using social media in some way – Just a few examples of my favorites from twitter:
- Scientists @mishaangrist, @westr, @genegeek, @nutrigenomics,
- Clinicians @kevinMD, @DrAnasYounes, @jackwestMD @Breastoncology
- Biotechnology Companies @Iontorrent, @completegenomic, @roche_com @wherebiobegins
- DTC genomics companies @23andme, @Navigenics, @pathwaygenomics
- Research institutes @stanford, @cityofhope, @wellcometrust, @aruplabs @genomescience
- Pharmaceuticals @Astrazeneca, @pfizer_news, @GSKUS, @sanofipasteur
- Journals @naturenews, @genomeresearch, @mybiotechniques, @naturemedicine
- Scientific News @genomeweb_news, @NCIbulletin, @guardianscience
- Scientific Associations @AACR @GeneticsSociety (ASHG) @TheACMG
- Regulators @FDAdeviceInfo, @FDArecalls
- Key Opinion Leaders @lindaavey, @genomicslawyer, @MaverickNY
The Good News –
- If your audience is anyone in the scientific field you can guarantee that they are spending at least 50% of their working life in front of a PC. This means that they are already spending significant time online and are probably engaged in consuming some kind of social media. (How many people do you know that have never viewed a You Tube video or even don’t have a Facebook account? Case in point!) This means that they are already using the tools which are available to you.
- Currently social media tools are FREE – which means in times when budgets are limited and ROI is more critical than ever – changing the way you communicate with your customers may actually save you money. Of course there will be costs, and resources required but it will be significantly lower than the costly traditional methods and if done correctly the ROI will be much higher.
- Using Social and electronic media means that you can have a ‘call to action’ which is immediate – ie click on a link, fill in a form, or go to a web page – the time it will take for your customer to react to your message is reduced from days to minutes. It also means that you can monitor their responses in real time
- If you use Facebook or Twitter – your customers opt to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ you – this means they are a captive audience, ready and willing to participate in the conversation you want to have with them. For the first time have an open dialogue with your customer without costly focus groups.
- Social Media gives us the opportunity to really listen to our customers, understand what it important to them and react quickly. This is particularly important if a customer is unhappy with any aspect of your product or service. The measure of a good company is how and how quickly they react to a customer with an issue.
- Science is by nature both collaborative and competitive – social media enables scientists to find collaborators interested in the same field as them, hear conversations on their niche expertise and also be on the lookout for competitive intelligence
- It’s not too late – while social media has become a part of our lives – this method of communication will continue to grow and develop further. The life sciences industry, conservative in nature has been slow to embrace it – however it’s never too late to start.
- Report: Life Science Companies Not Rushing to Social Networking (blogs.wsj.com)
- New Report Suggests that A Majority of Life Sciences Companies Will Take the Social Media Plunge! (biojobblog.com)
- Social Networks for Life Sciences (medicineandtechnology.com)
- Deloitte Report: 65 Percent Of Life Sciences Company Professionals Use/Plan To Use Social Networking (bioresearchonline.com)
- Measuring ROI For Social Media Campaigns In The Life Sciences (divabiotech.wordpress.com)