Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Dose of Social Media for Medical Brands

In the age of fast-phased technology where twitter, facebook, skype and blogs is taking the lead in passing message from one person to a bigger audience, social media became a necessity in all marketing efforts of different companies and agencies. The main reason of getting social media as one of their marketing tools is that it is cheap and majority of the possible converts are present in the net. As for pharmaceutical companies, they also see cyberspace as one of the possible area where they can promote their products to eliminate sampling and to increase audience engagement and feedback on the net.

The access to information is just a click away now that everyone has the access on the internet, with medical products we can easily see the information about the brand including their TV plugs and print ads uploaded in the YouTube and other blogs. Speaking of blogs some PR agencies that handle pharmaceutical products taps bloggers to be one of their partners in disseminating information as part of the promotion and marketing strategy. I was invited in an event that was related to medical companies that sponsors a fun run that will benefit a certain foundation. I support campaigns like this in getting everyone to sports and healthy lifestyle at the same time they support a charity that will be the beneficiary of the funds accumulated from the registration fees.

Social media is powerful and it makes the brand present while you’re checking your emails, reading a news feed, chatting with your friends or even during the uploading of your photos and videos, the brand is there on top, sidebars, in between articles, at the footnote or sometimes it pops on your screen. Sometimes we mistakenly click those links thinking it is part of the content. Now I mentioning links, medical companies joins the bandwagon of “like to vote system” and “#hash tagging” which is prominent in most of the social media accounts particularly Facebook and twitter entries where the greater number of likes, comments and retweets can win you a cash prize or coveted expensive gadget like iPad, iPhone, PSP, Wii and others. But sometimes participants became abusive with the tagging system and they end up flooding other users whom they were soliciting supports, but still the product benefits from it without hoping for possible converts just pure promotion.

The Pharmaton MVP online promo/contest which will run until October 2010, caught my attention where it is a collaboration of both online campaign through user generated content and purchasing power though voting which benefits the product in both ways; viral and earnings. The mechanics is simple, contestants will just upload their photos and the reason why they are considered as the My Pharmaton MVP winner. All entries have the logo "My Pharmaton MVP" which some contestants copy it and post it in their blogs. Each contestants have sharing option to Facebook, Gmail and Yahoo Mail for promo purposes. With the voting system which requires voters to purchase the product that enables them to vote once they enter the unique code on the foil wrapper of Pharmaton it is a simple way to convert numbers of followers of the campaign as income generator. In spite of simple mechanics and big prizes, the My Pharmaton MVP only gains few hundreds of entries which I think the project could not sustain the noise of the campaign. In the first few days of the contest the promotion is big but it weakens as days goes by going to the finals and now I don't see TV ads and commercials even online campaigns, the marketing team should have waving in terms of the promo to sustain the enthusiast and support of everyone not just having one big event on ground which is common to all marketing strategy and lacks with sustaining efforts.

Social media became an alternative and cheaper way for medical brands in sending their message to online users and with this some brands that has no approved therapeutic claims rides with this innovative and more fast-phased online bandwagon to promote their products and get possible converts both local and international market. This brand can easy control their campaigns without time restriction unlike TV and radio commercials, page and location placement like in bill boards and print ads, they can deliver all the information they wanted to convene and not being force to include the disclaimer of “No Approved Therapeutic Claims” on the footnote or end tag of the campaign. In the case of Saridon, an analgesic pain reliever medicine I blog last week, the manufacturer should consider the use of social media and internet in giving details about the said brand which gained rumors about the quality of the said drug. Without the help of YouTube and online forums, I will not see the TV ads of the said product which is exclusively distributed in Visayas and Mindanao alone, and the feedbacks about the product including the allegations on its side effects.

Positive or negative? In my opinion social media and the internet plays a vital role in making and breaking a certain product it only depends on how the company that owns it will react on it. Marketing group should think more creative stuff if they really want possible buyers of their product aside from the viral campaign on the net, but the Department of Health (DOH) should also be present online along with the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) to monitor the online campaigns done by pharmaceutical companies and how they communicate to the people. With the full control on the campaign given by the internet to the companies, the two health agencies should monitor if disclaimers are properly mentions on the website or blog entries. Sadly, we don’t have laws yet that will govern the internet and will protect the welfare of the consumers in the internet which obviously there are victims of scams, but I think the consumers should know their rights and ready to protect themselves after all they are intelligent enough on defend themselves from the aggressive world of social media and internet.

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