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The rise and rise of social influencers – the most powerful new voice in life sciences

On social media, there is a growing and vocal group of opinion leaders in life sciences. Interestingly, these opinion leaders are not necessarily physicians, academics or scientists. Instead, they are increasingly likely to be tweeters, bloggers or other social media users who are influencing the attitudes and behaviours of their followers. 

Recent research suggests that 78% of people trust what they hear from the individuals they have chosen to interact with on social media.

Using social intelligence to identify the opinion leaders - or 'social influencers' - and gauge their receptiveness to specific content gives pharmaceutical companies a smarter, more measurable way to get their voices heard and drive action from target audiences.

Seizing new opportunities through social influencers

Pharmaceutical companies can use social influencer engagement to build and strengthen relationships with key patient advocacy groups and physicians within their target therapy areas. This approach can be used to determine unmet needs and gaps in care, drive development of new products and enhance clinical trial recruitment.

PA supported a global biopharmaceutical company to design a recruitment strategy for a large Hepatitis C Vaccine (HCV) clinical trial. Our analysis found 120 million patients who would be suitable for the trial and established that these patients were all strongly influenced through social media by just 10 key individuals. By developing an engagement plan that outlined how to best approach these social influencers and publicise the company's trials, we helped our pharmaceutical client to reduce the expected recruitment period from six months to five weeks.  

Smarter sales and marketing to target groups

By understanding who the key social influencers are for a target audience pharmaceutical companies can build local market intelligence at low cost and high rate of return for launch products and markets. They can also gather consumer intelligence to enable real-time adjustment of online and multichannel marketing campaigns.

PA helped a global beauty products company to understand whether their free samples were resulting in sales. We were quickly able to show that they were not; instead most consumers’ decision to buy was influenced by their friends and followers ‘loving’ the product on social media.  By switching from offering free samples to stimulating recommendations through social media – getting people to say ‘I love this product, I’ve tried it’ – our client was able to both eliminate the costs associated with offering samples and persuade more people to buy their products.

Managing reputation and risk from social media

Social media presents both opportunities and threats to legitimate business.  In this new world it is critical for life science companies to be able to detect and take action against activities that are negatively impacting their brand.

PA worked with a global medical technology business that found that whenever they launched a new product, there was a negative response on social media and a corresponding negative impact on sales. Our investigation showed that the negative influence stemmed from a small number of groups that were all controlled by one person running multiple online profiles – a competitor. We gathered evidence to enable our client to challenge the perpetrator, which immediately stopped the damaging activity.

Communicating with real impact

PA's social intelligence capability enables us to undertake sophisticated analysis of over 200+ billion social media conversations to identify the 'true' social influencers in the life sciences space. We not only consider the quantity of social media content generated by these 'social influencers', we also look at the relevancy of this content, how many people are listening, and how receptive the audience is likely to be.

Our expert methodology provides highly accurate results, enabling companies to understand the motivations of the opinion leaders and ensuring the right social influencers are selected to support effective communication to the company's target audience.

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