This post is the first in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). Check back for primers on the use of facebook, youtube, and other means of life science social media marketing.
Twitter has undeniably become the social platform of choice for life science marketing. Based upon our in-house research performed on 400 small life science companies (in this case “small companies” is defined as those with 200 employees or less), 39.5% of small life science companies have twitter accounts, however only 31.0% have facebook accounts. Of the life science companies that use twitter, however, only a fraction make optimal use of it. Most commit multiple social media marketing faux-pas, and their marketing efforts are, in whole or in part, wasted as a result.
The first thing to remember about any life science social media marketing, and something that I reiterate over and over again, is that you are effectively on your customer’s “turf”, and you need to play by their rules. They are there for a reason, and that reason may be to network, socialize, follow topics of interest, etc., but you can be relatively certain that they are not there to read a stream of advertisements. If your twitter is effectively just a feed of new product announcements, press releases, sales and promotions, don’t waste your time. Either step up your game or shut your twitter account.
Remember that social media marketing, especially SMM on twitter, is far more about branding as opposed to lead generation. If you’re expecting twitter to be something that’s going to provide a short-term ROI, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree. (there are methods to realize a more near-term ROI, but this should be a small piece of your social media strategy). Think long-term. Think of it as an outlet that will project an image or an expertise. It will be one of the “faces” of your business, and its value will be in helping to shape and control your brand image.
When it comes to social media marketing, it is often good not to think of your target audience as current / potential customers but rather as scientists (or whatever subset of scientists you are looking to target). This will help you get out of the more traditional marketing mindset. Now, what would those scientists be interested in? How can you deliver content that is interesting to them as well as relevant to your business? That line that achieves both interest to your audience and relevance to your business is your sweet spot – stick to that as closely as you can. The source of the content can be external or internal, in fact most sustainable social media strategies by necessity rely more heavily on external content as generating the majority of content internally will either be too much of a burden or leave you posting too infrequently.
This is not to say that some more traditional marketing can’t be worked in, it just has to be communicated in terms of how it would be interesting to your audience. New products can be discussed if they are sufficiently interesting and you can add value to a conversation. Promotions can be announced if they are compelling to your audience. Just try your best to avoid making too many pitches, if any.
The next thing to remember is to engage. You need to promote and create bi-directional communication with your audience. Even if your audience is too large to listen and respond to a significant number of them, reach out to some eventually. Share what they have to say, respond to topics of interest, and talk to them. Just like conversations offline, people like it when what they say is acknowledged. Show your audience that there’s a real person (maybe even one that’s not wearing a tie) behind your twitter avatar. Being human is so much better than being corporate, and will help them foment a positive opinion of your brand and create an emotional attachment.
I’ve heard some prominent life science marketers predict the downfall of twitter as a marketing platform (just as, they say, e-mail has fallen out of favor as a marketing platform). I would go so far as to say they are outright incorrect. Unlike e-mail, where you are not always in control of who is sending you messages, twitter users choose who they want to listen to. If they feel they are being marketed to more than they desire, they’ll simply follow fewer corporate accounts. This can, however, be overcome by using marketing methods that don’t “feel” like marketing (such as content marketing), avoiding pitches, creating engagement, and being human.
Most twitter users don’t know most of the people they follow; they follow them because they’re interested in what they have to say. Put extremely simply, for a life science social media campaign on twitter to be successful, all you have to do is be relevant and interesting.
Don’t forget to follow BioBM on twitter! @BioBM