With 706 million users, LinkedIn might seem like a small fish when compared to other social media platforms like Facebook, which boasts a lofty 2.7 billion users. But when it comes to your pharmaceutical brand, LinkedIn is a far more productive platform for professional audiences.
Research has shown that 46% of physicians participate in social networking for professional purposes, up from just 34% in 2019. Due to the ability to control profile privacy and discussions, LinkedIn has become the preferred platform for professionals in the pharmaceutical field.
And these audiences are willing to engage.
Why to consider LinkedIn for HCP engagement
A recent study by Hubspot found that traffic from LinkedIn generates the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate of any social media platform, making it 277% more effective than Twitter and Facebook.
LinkedIn houses a variety of unique audiences that can be turned into fruitful leads for pharmaceutical professionals. Payors or formulary decision makers can serve as valuable targets. Research shows formulary decision makers are online in large numbers and are actively looking for content from pharmaceutical organizations. This makes them ideal targets for sponsored content campaigns promoting new studies, which can make it easier for these individuals to make a decision on a new drug.
Through job titles, users can also target healthcare professionals like physicians, key opinion leaders, nurses, and pharmacists. When it comes to fostering and building your corporate reputation, opinion leaders, investors, reporters, activists and business leaders can make for useful connections.
To put things into perspective, big names in the industry have amassed sizable followings on LinkedIn, while Facebook follower counts have lagged behind. Take Johnson & Johnson, for example, which has one million followers on LinkedIn compared to 695,000 on Facebook.
Unlike Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn offers a more holistic picture of your brand’s audience. Insights on job titles, tenure, skills and location take a large portion of the guess work often associated with social media targeting out of the picture.
It also allows you to more easily engage with professionals in your field.
Similar to other social media platforms, you shouldn’t pass go without having a fleshed out, comprehensive profile—for both your personal account and the pharmaceutical brand you’re promoting. Go the extra mile so your audiences don’t have to.
Your personal brand is equally as important as the one you’re representing, and your contacts should know exactly who you are and what you’re doing when they view your personal and company profiles.
Building profile equity
No matter what campaign you’re running, you need to build credibility through your profile as well.
Simply redirecting to your company’s site rather than utilizing a company profile page leaves one more step for people to take in order to engage with you and your product—and consequently, allows for another way for these users to fall off in the process.
A large portion of campaign clicks—even if it’s a web traffic campaign—end up going to your profile rather than your website, so it’s an important component.
Great profiles are consistent—there’s no question about that.
Establishing trust and projecting a reliable, positive image is important. When content comes from an individual with an appreciable number of followers rather than a company profile, potential audiences, like physicians, are more likely to be receptive to receiving information. If the profile is new, show your audience you’re serious by keeping content fresh and expanding on comments. Simply posting a news article once every couple of days will show them that you’re available and engaged in conversations.
Segment your audience
LinkedIn is a platform for targeting professional audiences, pure and simple. There are a few distinct audiences to target within the pharmaceutical space, each of which serves a unique purpose and requires a different strategy. Pharmaceutical marketers can target professionals making policy decisions (like formulary decision makers), those who make purchasing decisions (like hospital administrators) or healthcare providers who make clinical decisions.
These audiences are made up of vastly different individuals, so the strategy and content that most effectively caters to each differs as well. Doctors and healthcare professionals are more likely to use LinkedIn to profile themselves, network and consume industry-specific information, which makes the platform a particularly effective tool for targeting this audience.
Know how your audience uses the platform
Effectively reaching these audiences depends on how well you know their habits. Take a look at their group activity and individual profiles. Do they mostly like and comment or do they share content? What sort of content? Could your organization add to the discussion?
If you’re targeting P&T committees, the conversations might focus heavily on politics or news. Here, a campaign might not even be necessary to gain traction. Simply commenting on news developments using the hashtag that others are using could get eyes on your organization’s role.
If you’re targeting physicians, what type of content gets the most engagement? Payer issues, office management issues, medical study news? You might be surprised at how siloed their discussions are. Make sure you are going to give them something that they will be most likely to engage with.
Demonstrating a strong command of industry-specific knowledge and terminology is particularly important when networking with payers, pharmaceutical professionals or key opinion leaders. Knowing who drives decision making, what needs they’re looking to address, and what conversations are being had in the pharmaceutical space are all imperative in appealing to this more technical audience.
LinkedIn also allows users to more easily research their targeted audiences, which can make outreach more personalized, relevant and effective. For example, if your target is a physician, you can research their interests, what technology they may be using, what pinch points they may be feeing with their patients and what medical devices they may be using.
Identify key groups
LinkedIn groups can be especially valuable when it comes to lead generation, and some of these groups can provide direct networking access to a large number of professionals in your field. Having an understanding of the group’s purpose before contributing, utilizing proper etiquette, and offering knowledge and valuable services can help you organically build a reputation as an expert or thought leader within the field.
Common missteps like automating posts or being overly self-promotional can cheapen your brand (and result in being kicked out of some groups). Industry-specific groups can help you keep up to date with trends, allow you to participate in discussions, and offer a productive way to make new, direct industry connections in your field while establishing authority.
Take a look at your professional audience and find the groups that are important to them. You might be surprised at how large (or small) they are. Here are a few examples:
- Pharmacy & Therapeutics Society—A group for people who are involved in making formulary for insurance coverage decisions (290 followers)
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists —A non-profit society for women’s health professionals (23,055 followers)
- American Association for Respiratory Care—A non-profit society for women’s health professionals (22,046 followers)
- American Academy of Dermatology—A non-profit society for women’s health professionals (11,558 followers)
- American Board of Family Medicine—A non-profit society for family medicine professionals (2,168 followers)
- American College of Radiology—A non-profit society for radiologists (36,647 followers)
- American College of Neurology—A non-profit society for neurologists (15,738 followers)
- American Neurological Association—Another neurological society that fosters education/practice advancement (275 followers)
Let’s say you’re partnering with ACOG.org. Their LinkedIn group has a sizable following. In your partnership, make sure you call out your presence on LinkedIn. This will help drive traffic to your page and let professionals know that you’re within reach for a conversation if they need to get in touch.
Simply having a presence on LinkedIn may be enough in this case. But, again, it all depends on your audience.
Quick tips for building your brand’s following
Many of LinkedIn’s most useful features don’t even require a premium or pro version of the app.
Listen in on conversations
- Advanced People Search allows you to identify users within specific industries, job titles, skills or locations that you’re looking to hone in on.
- Advanced and saved searches can also help keep your efforts consistent by enabling alerts based on your desired parameters.
Setting these alerts can also help pharma marketers keep a finger on the pulse when it comes to what your audience wants to hear and what trends are driving decision-making within the industry.
Vary your media
Sharing photos and videos is an effective way to humanize your brand and make your content more engaging.
Visual material, whether it be reports, presentations, testimonials, or graphics tend to be more compelling and convincing. Not to mention, video is considered highly in LinkedIn’s algorithm, which increases your chances of reaching the top of your audience’s feed.
The 20-80 rule
Pharma companies are restricted in how they can promote their products, but it doesn’t have to be considered a barrier to entry. After all, your social audience wants to see that you’re focused on your patients and healthcare issues as a whole rather than peruse your latest press release.
Eighty percent of posts should be useful to your audience, while only 20% should directly and explicitly promote your brand. For example, while Astra Zeneca occasionally posts about their own efforts, the majority of their content more subtly promotes health and wellbeing. It’s a strategy that has served them well, as they have amassed 1,671,053 followers.
Many big names in the industry focus on the 20-80 rule, which aims to help segment how often you should be promoting your own brand. It also guides how often you should be speaking on issues that are of interest to your audience.
Advertising with sponsored posts
Sponsored postings are another effective way to cut through the noise.
Physicians are inundated with content daily, and sponsored posts can help ensure your content is reaching a wider and more targeted audience. With sponsored content, one can pick from cost per click (CPC) buying or cost per impression (CPM) buying. Deciding which to use allows pharma marketers to focus on generating engagement or brand awareness.
- CPC is most effective for action-oriented campaigns, like lead generation.
- CPM is typically the better fit when aiming for brand awareness.
Examining your audience’s behavior is also imperative to getting the most out of your sponsoring posts—you’ll want to ensure that your ads are visible during your target demographic’s peak app usage.
Using sponsored messages for high-impact growth
Pharma marketers have been historically more cautious on social media due to FDA regulations. LinkedIn’s sponsored messages, known as InMail, are generally viewed as a safer option for pharma professionals since they do not allow for public comment. These messages are sent directly to targeted LinkedIn members’ inboxes. Be wary of over-targeting with this method; the more focused your efforts are, the more successful your outreach will be.
Our agency has your back
If you are struggling to find a team that can offer advertising prowess with regulatory knowledge, consider bfw Life Sciences. We’re an experienced agency partner and can help your pharmaceutical social media campaign succeed. Contact us here or browse other content on our blog.