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Is social media effective for Medical Device companies? An honest review of whether you should be doing it

19 Jan 23 | 09:25:47

Every company seems to be on social media these days, seizing the opportunity to interact directly with customers and appear in their newsfeeds, but is this the same for Medical Device?

Is the power of social media as effective for Medical Device companies and is it something you should be doing?

Well, if you’re wondering the answer to this question, we’re here to help. By the end of this article, you’ll understand the pros and cons of social media in healthcare and you’ll be able to decide for yourself if it’s something you should be doing.

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When social media is effective for Medical Device marketing

Medical Device and wider healthcare industries are often considered different to other industries when it comes to marketing. Many believe there are different rules, and you can’t run campaigns in the same way as any other company.

That is true, to an extent. Regulations must be followed for each country, but that doesn’t mean there is no room for creativity, or that social media can’t be effective. In fact, there are many ways it can.

Building communities

Social media can be a great place for companies to go to build a community. The personal interaction that social platforms allow is hard to match.

Community building might not be on the agenda for every Medical Device company as it takes time, but it can be highly effective when communicating directly to patients and HCPs.

This is because a community (closed or open) puts you in a unique position to speak to patients or HCPs that share the same problem, for which you are the solution.

It’s likely that your audience has already begun building a community, so often you won’t need to start from scratch. This is where engaging influencers (patients or KOLs) can really help to quickly expand your reach.

If your audience is healthcare professionals, community building can pay dividends in the long run. Part of being in the healthcare industry is keeping up with the latest news and always striving for better ways to do things, which is where you can come in.

Medical Device companies can harness the power of social media, to become a robust touchpoint for HCPs to find relevant information.

There must however always be a final objective, which is to drive conversion and adoption of your product or technology. In this case, it’s done by directing your audience to your website where they will enter your conversion funnel.

Spreading brand awareness

For many businesses, growing brand awareness is their main marketing aim on social media.

However, this is not a short game. To do this you must first build up your personal and business page contacts, so you aren’t speaking into a void.

Once this is done consistent posting is a must. LinkedIn recommends posting 1-5 times per day and Instagram 5-7 times per week. As a good rule of thumb, the more you post (as long as the content is of high-quality) the faster you will gain traction.

Social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and more) all use algorithms to deliver what they deem to be the most relevant content to their users – this means your content won’t only be seen by your contacts (or followers) but could be spread further afield, significantly helping you to build your brand awareness.

Your company’s posts could be seen by thousands of new people every single day, extending your reach significantly and putting your brand at the forefront of people’s minds even if they haven’t heard of you before.

A great thing to remember is that it’ll take time for your community to convert, depending on where they are in their buyer’s journey. If they don’t yet realise they have experienced the issue you solve, they will need to repeatedly see your brand until they do.

Building trust

In any industry, trust is essential to make sales. People need to feel that they can trust a company before they decide to buy from or work with them, and social media is an excellent tool for building trust with your audience.

As well as allowing companies to interact directly with their customers, social media also provides an opportunity to offer value to your audience without asking for anything in return.

Your posts can discuss the problems they encounter, the questions they reliably ask your sales team, and other topics that matter to them, providing advice and education.

All of this gives your brand a character, almost like a person that customers can relate to, leading them to trust you and feel a connection with your company.

Why social may not be effective in Medical Device marketing (h2)

The concerns around Medical Device marketing, especially social media marketing, are not unfounded. It’s true that deciding to invest in Medical Device products is not as simple as whether it looks like a good device or not, there are budgets, resources and many other factors that play into it. As a result, social media often plays a different role in medical marketing when compared to other industries and there are some downfalls.

Targeting the wrong audience

One of the main issues with social media in Medical Device marketing is that you cannot guarantee your audience is engaged.

Although many healthcare professionals are on social media, how many of them are using it as a tool to find new Medical Devices and technologies? They may use it to network and learn about the latest news in their therapy area, but that doesn’t mean they are open to hearing about new devices and technologies.

In this case, social media might not be that effective as it may not necessarily equate to sales.

Time-consuming

Social media can be massively powerful, but as with any successful campaign in marketing, it does require a lot of time and effort to get it right.

The best social media pages are consistently updated with new, exciting content. Pages that post sporadically or post for the sake of posting are much less likely to see success.

Even if you are posting 3 times a week, that’ll take a significant amount of time, as you will need to create a content calendar every 3 months, write the copy for each post, design the graphic or film the video and then schedule and monitor posts.

Social media is therefore a lot of work, and you need to decide if your team has the time and resources to do it properly and whether that time is worth the investment.

In our experience social media usually works best when it’s part of a larger strategy and you must have clear objectives and measures to drive success.

There are many other factors that determine if your social media efforts are successful, which you can learn about in our articles on social media strategy and social media best practices.

Public relations repercussions

Anything that a company posts on social media is within the public domain, and therefore open to scrutiny. The importance of digital PR is on the rise, and social media plays a massive role in that.

Plenty of big companies such as Dove and Nivea have come under fire for social media campaigns that didn’t receive the reception they were expecting and were instead called out for being insensitive.

The potential damage of social media campaigns gone wrong can be irreparable, and although every marketing campaign is open to criticism, social media can be particularly damaging as feedback is instant and can spread like wildfire.

This is a risk that you should consider when pondering social media.

Regulations

Similar to how everything you post on social media can come under scrutiny from the public, everything is also open to regulators. You therefore need to ensure that everything you post is compliant with all applicable regulations.

In the EU this means not only the EU MDR but also the local country regulations, each of which are different and will alter what can and cannot be said, particularly to patients.

To learn more about the advertising regulations in the EU and UK please read our download on Medical Device Advertising Regulations.

In general, within countries that you can advertise your Medical Device (UK / EU Class IIb & III or FDA Class III) you must be truthful and balanced in all your advertising, and all claims must align with your device’s intended purpose.

Interestingly, this doesn’t just apply to what is written in text, it also applies to all imagery (photography, renders and computer-generated images (CGI)), as well as brand elements (e.g. logos etc).

In addition to country regulations, social media channels also have guidelines that must be followed. For instance, particularly graphic imagery, such as surgery, may be in breach of platform guidelines. Facebook ads don’t allow any images of body parts, which can massively restrict campaigns.

Should you be doing social media?

We’ve laid out both how social media can be effective and the various factors that restrict it, but whether or not it is right for your company is down to your own marketing goals and capabilities.

Yes, it’s an incredibly powerful tool, but it isn’t without its difficulties. You may not have the time or resources to run it effectively, or equally, you may have the capabilities, but it might not align with your goals and therefore your time should be spent elsewhere.

Social at Podymos

Do you want to communicate more effectively with HCPs and patients? Do you want to be able to deliver high-quality social media campaigns as part of your larger multichannel marketing strategy? You’ve come to the right place.

Podymos is a healthcare marketing agency, specialising in downstream Medical Device marketing.

We’re more expensive than non-specialised agencies and freelance teams because we only work in the Medical Device space so we have specialist knowledge and experience that other agencies may not be able to offer you.

If you want high-quality, compliant campaigns that help achieve your business goals, we’d love to hear from you. Simply leave us your contact details below and we’ll get back to you very soon for a no obligation chat.

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