As a continuation to the Express Pharma series of articles titled ‘The Digital Dose for Indian Pharma’, Dinesh Chindarkar, Co-founder & Vice President – Operations, MediaMedic Communications, focuses on specific social media platforms gives an outlook on the most popular social networking and micro-blogging platform – Twitter
One thing similar between a celebrity and a common man is – they both ‘tweet’. From announcing the birth of a baby to rocking the nation, people share their hearts out on this micro-blogging website called Twitter.
So what exactly is Twitter?
Twitter is nothing but a network pool of real time information that connects you with the latest news and information on topics of your interest and much more. When we say real-time, it means new information is uploaded almost every second! That’s the speed at which you reach your viewer. At the core of Twitter is a ‘tweet’, which is a short text message of 140 characters in length. This message is more like an SMS but displayed to the public or a large number of audience.
How does Twitter work?
Just like any social media channel, Twitter can help you network with your colleagues, associates and other professionals from the industry. It also helps to stay in touch with various companies. You can follow them and they can follow you. You will be able to see a Twitter feed real time on your account of all the different accounts that you follow. Similarly, whatever you tweet is seen by your followers.
You can also check which profiles are followed by your peers and associates, to help you decide whom to follow. But, how can these little tweets help our pharma companies in increasing their business? Just like any social media channel, Twitter is like a PR tool to build up your reputation and interact with the masses at large. As a corporate, pharma companies can talk about their initiatives in terms of patient education, CSR, latest technology adoption, new product launches and also about their financial achievements.
How to make Twitter work for you?
The trick with Twitter is effective communication. To grab the attention of customers, one needs to also use or follow the appropriate hashtags. A hashtag will group your tweets in conversations related to healthcare, where it will create greater visibility. For example; on Twitter if you type ‘#pharma’ in the search section, you will see all the tweets containing ‘#pharma’. This will help you identify all the discussion happening around pharma. Similarly, when you post some update related to pharma and you use this hashtag, your conversation will be grouped with others and people who like it may start communicating or following you. That is the beauty of Twitter and it can give rise to meaningful conversation and dialogue around geographical boundaries and help connect with varied people.
A pharma company has to strategise the use of Twitter, define the objectives and then get on with the implementation. It can create a hype by broadcasting the company’s latest news, latest research done on its molecule, create awareness on a particular disease or condition, interact with doctors and patients alike, enable easy internal collaboration and group communication etc. Rather than keeping a one-way broadcasting outlook, a company can get into meaningful conversations.
Doctors too are changing and, especially the younger ones, are adapting to Twitter fast and can definitely be connected. They seek and share information on twitter and can strike a conversation with any pharma company that they wish to. Pharma can look into creating groups within healthcare providers (HCPs) and engage with them by giving them personalised information that they wish to get. Twitter can be an incredibly powerful tool, provided it is used strategically with clearly laid down objectives.
Current users of Twitter
There are a few Indian pharma companies who have effectively started using Twitter to connect with their customers and consumers. One of the few top Twitter pharma handles that are currently in use is @Pfizer_news where Pfizer gives out real time information about the company. @Diabetes_Sanofi is another great example of a pharma company connecting with its patients. This handle posts real time case studies and blogs of its consumers while promoting awareness about diabetes.
Some relevant hashtags to use while tweeting are: #pharma, #hcsmin, #healthcare, #ehealth, #indiahealth
Making a Twitter in the market
With Twitter, newer platforms of interactive communication with customers, clients, consumers, and competitors can be explored as it holds a lot of benefits. The key lies in understanding the medium completely. It not only allows the pharma company to build their brand’s image but also build the category in which it is operating. With approximately over 10 million Twitter users in India, and majority of them using to get latest news, pharma companies have ample opportunities to showcase their true marketing potential through Twitter. Moreover, it is extremely cost effective as one simple tweet is reaching a huge number of audience compared to the traditional methods of marketing.
As the world moves on to newer avenues of marketing, Twitter is that one potential avenue which needs to be explored by Indian pharma. Once they get on the roll in tweeting, then they can easily connect with their customers, patients and stakeholders. In this era of ‘disease management’ and ‘partnering for healthy outcomes’, it is a critical medium to reach these TGs.