There’s an old adage in marketing that says you have to go where the people are. In days past, patients relied on doctors to provide information about clinical trials, and, often, doctors failed to share this information with their patients. Today, more and more patients are turning to the Internet rather than doctors for information on clinical trials. The Internet surfing habits of these users reveals where people are spending their time online. In September 2014, a recent survey found that of all adult Internet users, 71% use Facebook. Other social networking sites pale in comparison, with Twitter at 23%, Pinterest at 28%, and Instagram at 26%. Thus, if clinical trials want to go where the people are, Facebook seems like the logical first step.
One of the most common mistakes marketers make is not investing the proper amount of time and resources in the planning stage. Often, marketers will want to move forward (or will be pressured to move forward) without first considering their overall goals and strategy. Preparation, however, is key to a successful Facebook campaign—here is where marketers should begin when creating an effective plan.
Like any other marketing endeavor, your Facebook campaign should outline the following in detail:
- Personnel and responsibilities
- Resources and funding
- Best practices
Begin by identifying which personnel will handle the day-to-day operations of running your Facebook presence. Define how much responsibility that person will have and what the job requirements are. Identify your budget for any expenses that arise and any additional resources that will be required. In addition, you should outline in detail best practices for managing your social media presence, including trouble areas, such as regulatory issues or negative feedback.
Before plunging right in, be sure to clearly identify your voice and values. What message does the rest of your marketing effort convey to potential participants? Be sure to be consistent across all platforms, including your website, social media, and traditional marketing materials. Identifying what makes your voice unique is critical to sending an effective message on Facebook that will attract and retain your audience. Facebook offers marketers a unique opportunity to humanize their clinical trial in a way that other marketing tools do not—that is achieved by first identifying your voice.
3. Define Success
How will you know you have met your goals if you never set one? Defining what success means to your clinical trial includes:
- Identifying trial objectives
- Defining performance indicators and targets
- Establishing timelines
Carefully tracking your successes and failures will help you to see what is working with your campaign and where you need improvement. You will also be able to appropriate resources more accurately and in accordance with your goals.
4. Paid Advertising
One challenge unique to clinical trial marketers is getting referrals through the approval process. Facebook is especially useful to clinical trial marketers because it is able to generate many leads at a fraction of the cost when compared to other digital channels with fewer hassles. This can ultimately save a trial thousands of dollars, depending on how strict the inclusion criteria are for that trial. Sponsored ads appear in an individual’s news feed along with other stories from their friends. Marketers can very specifically target their desired demographic based on a variety of factors, such as interest, age, or gender. Compared to other cost-per-click platforms, such as Google and Bing, Facebook is available to marketers at a fraction of the cost. Because of the effectiveness of targeted, paid ads on Facebook and their relevance to the unique needs of clinical marketers, it is wise to include this aspect in your objective plan at the outset.
Following these four steps will reduce frustration and confusion further down the line. Taking the time to adequately plan your Facebook strategy upfront can be the key to reaching the people you need to make your trial a success.