Why do so many healthcare and pharma companies fall into the trap of only talking about themselves on social media?

I did a little spot check recently of a handful of pharma and healthcare companies’ Twitter profiles and found the majority looked great – plenty of high quality images, video content and regular posting – but they all had limited engagement.

Why is it that so many companies in the health sector have polished profiles but are talking to themselves?  

Could it be that they are breaking the number one rule of social media – forgetting to be sociable? Nobody in the real world wants to spend time talking with someone who doesn’t show any interest in anything other than themself, so why do healthcare companies think the rules are different on social media?

Many of the companies I looked at have made huge investments in developing and strengthening customer relationships through sales forces, training and PR activities. Yet these learnings about how to build relationships in person aren’t translated into the digital arena. So, where are they going wrong?

 Common mistakes that lead to narcissistic posting

  • Lack of a clear and integrated social media strategy. Many companies and brand teams go through a defined strategic marketing cycle. However their plans lack a social media strategy with clearly defined goals and actions that are integrated into the overall marketing and PR plans.  
  • Target audience and user profiles aren’t defined. As social media channels are often run at a corporate level in large companies rather than a brand level, they tend not to align to a clear user profile or to the specific target audience of their individual brands – if you try to speak to everyone you typically speak to no-one!   
  • Metrics drive posting not engagement. Setting metrics for social media is really important to track progress and learn but if metrics are set around number of posts, impressions or even followers, it can drive output instead of building an engaged community.   
  • Compliance hinders social engagement. For many pharma and healthcare companies, the rigorous rules around promotion, advertising and communication mean every post goes through an approval process. In the fast-paced, real-time environment of social media. it means, by the time posts are approved, the conversation has moved on and the window of opportunity for authentic dialogue has been missed. This drives a format of pre-approved, pre-scheduled posting that severely limits spontaneous engagement and social interaction with followers or influencers. 

So what can companies do to break the ‘all about me’ habit?

Seven questions to ask before you post 

1. Will anyone care? If your colleagues and work friends aren’t bothered about the content you’re positing why should anyone else be?

2. Are you talking about yourself in the post? If the post has your company logo, CEO or branding then it’s about you; it’s a promotional post and best practice is to limit these to 1 in 4.

3. Are you providing value? Does your post give something back to the audience on social media? Does it inform, entertain or inspire in some way? 

4. Are you posting quality content? Choose quality over quantity. If you are struggling to reach a target number of daily posts on a channel, don’t fill the gaps with low quality posts. It’s better to post something that is good less frequently. Just try to keep posting regular, i.e. once a day or twice a week so that you maintain consistency 

5. Are you setting trends or following them? It can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon with a trending hashtag but it is better to engage in a relevant conversation with a genuine thought or comment.

6. Would you ‘like’ the post? Give the post a personal sense check. If you wouldn’t like it or comment if it was posted by a stranger, is it really going to be of interest to someone else?

7. Does the post link elsewhere? If you don’t link to other people’s content or engage with anyone else why would anyone else reciprocate?  

If you think your company or brand is suffering from narcissism on social media then we would love to show you the difference! 

About the Author

Holly Hudson is a marketing and social media consultant and project manager, working with businesses and marketing teams to increase brand awareness and support business growth.

Holly believes in using strong insight to develop brand plans, digital and social media strategies that reach the hearts and minds of customers. She prides herself on creative thinking, an ability to see the big picture and helping her clients marketing budget work harder and go further.

Holly is one of our Collective Members.

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