Medico Digital Insights

Social Listening in Healthcare and Pharma Marketing

Healthcare marketing

Read time

7 min


28th November 2023


Written by Lizz Summers

In this digital age, information travels at the speed of a click across multiple platforms. With so much data and information out there, it makes sense that healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are transforming their marketing approach.

Social listening is a dynamic strategy that goes beyond traditional styles of market research — enabling health and pharma brands to tune into the voices of consumers and the broader healthcare community.

In this blog post, we’re going to delve into the world of social listening. Discover what social listening is, what it’s influenced by and how it’s beneficial for healthcare and pharma marketing. 

What is social listening?

Social listening at its core is a strategic research approach that allows healthcare and pharma marketers to tap into the vast sea of online conversations and data. Unlike traditional market research, which heavily relies on surveys and questionnaires, social listening involves the monitoring and analysing of data from social media platforms, forums and blogs.

Millions of voices are constantly talking online — sharing experiences, opinions and concerns across the vast digital landscape. Social listening provides the healthcare industry with a way of hearing conversations to gain a nuanced understanding of the prevailing trends and interests of their consumers.

In short, social listening tells you what people are actually saying about your brand. 

The process of social listening usually involves advanced tools and technology which sift through large amounts of data and extract meaningful insights. Using social listening tools also provides analysis of said data, supporting marketing strategies.

Social listening goes beyond the words being said — it also focuses on the way they’re said. Tone, context and emotions are woven into online discussions and it can provide invaluable insights into patient experiences.

What is social listening influenced by?

Social listening is influenced by multiple factors which help shape the dynamic strategy. 

Some of the pivotal factors that influence social listening include: 

  • Digital platforms — social listening is linked to the platforms conversations originate on. From Facebook to TikTok and even healthcare forums, the choice of platform significantly influences the scope and depth of insights. Using social listening tools across multiple platforms ensures you cast a wide enough net to capture a diverse range of opinions and experiences.
  • Advancements in technology — technology underpins social listening and it’s constantly evolving. With artificial intelligence (AI) growing and improving at a rapid rate, social listening technologies are getting better and better at identifying patterns and sentiments and improving in accuracy.
  • Real-time analytics — where traditional market research provides a snapshot in time, social listening enables brands to gather up-to-date, almost real-time insights and analytics. This allows healthcare and pharma brands to respond faster than ever to emerging issues and stay on top of trends. It also ensures marketing strategies can be adapted quickly when necessary.
  • Global connectivity — social listening goes beyond local data. It captures a global conversation. These connections promote tailored marketing strategies based on diverse sets of data.
  • Regulations — healthcare and pharma operate in a highly regulated environment which means social listening tools must adhere to them too. In the healthcare and pharma industry, this means having rigorous reporting protocols, so that Adverse Events of issues can be reported in a way that is prompt and compliant. 

Implementing social listening in healthcare and pharma marketing

Social listening tools require a strategic approach to implementation. Numerous steps need to be taken to ensure meaningful insights are extracted and analysed and then translated into actionable marketing strategies. The first step is to clearly define the objectives of the social listening strategy. Whether it’s understanding your target audience more or tracking their reaction to a new product, having well-defined goals will help shape the implementation.

Next, you need to choose the right social listening tools for your needs. There are various tools available, each with unique features and capabilities. However, you need to consider what you want to gain from the tool.

Some things to consider when choosing a social listening tool include: 

  • Scalability
  • Capabilities
  • The depth of analytics you need
  • Budget 
  • Types of data you need

Another key factor in implementing social listening is to tailor your approach so it aligns with your objectives. Things like keywords and hashtags are crucial in understanding your audience. Understanding which ones are relevant to your industry can make all the difference in the insights you get back from the social listening tool.

In short, there’s a big difference between an ‘out of the box’ social listening approach – which can generate a general sense of a topic – versus a strategic, focused social listening approach, which answers specific questions that you need answering in order to build your brand strategy. 

That’s where getting specialist help comes in… 

How social listening is beneficial in healthcare and pharma marketing

Social listening isn’t merely a new trend — it can make a big impact in healthcare and pharma marketing. Social listening offers tangible advantages and can be a compass to help guide your marketing strategies towards success. 

The main benefits of social listening include: 

  • Insight into patient perspectives — social listening gives you a window into the lives of your patients and consumers. You will have direct access to their opinions, concerns and preferences to help you understand and create a better patient experience based on their real needs.
  • Proactive resolutions — real-time monitoring means you can identify and address emerging issues as they happen. Whether it’s misinformation or concerns about potential side effects, you can easily address any concerns sooner rather than later. This helps maintain a positive brand reputation and clear communication.
  • Competitor analysis — social listening gives healthcare and pharma companies an advantage by providing insight into competitors and their audiences. You can use the social listening data to discover what’s working well for your competitors and what you can do better than them. Similarly, you can stay ahead of the curve in such an evolving digital market.
  • Personalisation — the data obtained through social listening can be used to personalise and tailor your marketing approach to the specific needs of your patients/consumers. By collecting data from certain demographics, you can anticipate behaviours and create personalised campaigns.
  • Enhanced campaign performance — social listening tools can be used after you run marketing campaigns too. This data will provide you with valuable insights into what went well and what you can refine for future campaigns. This process ensures your marketing is not stagnant and improves based on real-time feedback.
  • Early trend and issue detection — social listening data can act as a warning for brands, alerting you to potential emerging trends or issues. By actively engaging with possible problems as they emerge, you can prevent them from developing into larger issues and maintain a strong relationship with your consumers.
  • Brand trust — using social listening data helps you to actively engage in feedback from patients and creates a strong sense of brand trust and reliability. Consumers will see you are listening to what they’re saying and taking it onboard. 

Essentially, social listening is a vital part of healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing, providing  clear, real-time data from targeted demographics. Partnering with an agency or consultant with specialist skills and expertise in research and insights can help you get the best from social listening and utilise the findings to grow your brand and enhance your marketing strategies. 

At Medico Digital, we’re committed to bringing you the very latest marketing tips and tricks to ensure your strategies are ahead of the curve. For more information on social listening and how it can be used in healthcare and pharma marketing, give our latest podcast episode a listen. 

In episode 1: Social Listening in Healthcare and Pharma Marketing with Becca Evans, we’re discussing the role social listening plays in marketing and how it can help shape your brand strategy. With expert insights from our guest Becca Evans, FreelanceInsights Consultant,  we unpick how you can respond to emerging trends and refine your marketing approach with the help of social listening.

Check out Medico Digital’s latest podcast episode.

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