Pharma Companies Turn to Social Media Data for Growth

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Pharma goes social to better target customers and boost sales

In today’s data-driven marketplace, information is currency. Businesses and organizations can get access to data from numerous sources, including digital data from online retail websites and social media, and use that information to refine products and offers, drive sales higher and improve the experience of their customers and constituents.

The data-as-currency model cuts across all industry types, and the life sciences sector — including pharma — has much to gain from improving access to data to enhance the patient experience and increase profitability.

Digital Data Opportunities

To understand how the availability of digital data has increased opportunities to improve treatments, optimize offers and drive profitability, consider how much more difficult it is for traditional health-related products marketers to gain access to vital information in the brick and mortar world:

Picture a customer walking into a pharmacy. She peruses the products in the cold remedies aisle and then leaves without making a purchase. Were the prices too high? Did she not find what she wanted? It’s not immediately apparent why she left without buying something. A company that wanted to get that customer’s business would need expensive market research or a loyalty program to find out what products she needs and how she feels about the choices.

In an online retail scenario, there’s a lot more data to consider from a customer visit, and it is easier and more affordable to access that information. Visitors to online giants like Amazon can immediately see how the retailer uses their data and that of other shoppers.

For example, buyers who make a purchase or view a product online can see items other customers who bought that same product purchased, and a continuous feedback loop is established via customer reviews. Or if a customer searches for something but doesn’t find it and then leaves the site, that information is captured, as opposed to the above example where the person left the physical store but the reason why was not captured.

Pharma’s Data Goldmine

The online retail model has significant advantages: It gives companies access to an incredibly rich array of information, enables inferences from relationships among the data and keeps consumers engaged via the use of continuous feedback loops. But how can pharma companies, which typically don’t sell medications directly to consumers online, replicate that advantage?

Social media platforms can be a data goldmine for pharma companies, yielding relevant consumer feedback and providing an endless stream of sentiment data:

Data Integration and Management

These statistics reveal the scale of the opportunity for pharma companies. But before they can use social media information and other online data to improve products and increase sales, they have to find a way to effectively and efficiently integrate and manage their data.

With the right data integration and management solution, pharma companies can compile information from a myriad of existing sources as well as new sources, harmonize it to enable it for analysis and present it for interpretation and actionable insights. For instance, pharma companies that are currently following this strategy are able to view the volume of social media activity around their products and services and determine positive or negative sentiments about them, which provides the insights needed to improve the products and the customer experience.

Another social media strategy that forward-thinking pharma businesses are taking advantage of is integrating Facebook and Google AdWords data with internal financial data and creating heat-mapped views to determine where the greatest ROI is generated. This is enabled through proper aggregation of the available data and harmonizing it to glean the actionable information from it.

Online Data Advantages

One of the key advantages of online data is that it removes geographical barriers, enabling users worldwide to participate in discussions while companies reap the benefit of global information. And yet it also enables data analysis at a more localized, granular level if desired. The ability to secure global information and produce local output is incredibly valuable.

By using social and other online data, pharma companies can leverage data much like online retailers have done, taking information in from a multitude of sources and then integrating and harmonizing data to create a 360-degree view from which they can act upon the insights gained.

The pharma organizations that are maximizing social data analytics today do so utilizing a cloud-based solution that allows for integration of all types of data and data sources and enables data scientists to work with harmonized data rather than spending their time being data janitors. And they’re finding that when pharma goes social, customers get better products and more relevant communication while companies generate greater profits more quickly.

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About Author

Gary Palgon
Gary Palgon

Gary Palgon is vice president of healthcare and life sciences solutions at Liaison Technologies. In this role, Gary leverages more than two decades of product management, sales, and marketing experience to develop and expand Liaison's data-inspired solutions for the healthcare and life sciences verticals. Gary's unique blend of expertise bridges the gap between the technical and business aspects of healthcare, data security, and electronic commerce. As a respected thought leader in the healthcare IT industry, Gary has had numerous articles published, is a frequent speaker at conferences, and often serves as a knowledgeable resource for analysts and journalists. His prolific and consistent contributions to the advancement of healthcare IT earned him a prominent spot on the crowdsourced #HIT100 list in 2012 and 2013. Gary is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer and Information Sciences from the University of Florida.

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