Before you head for the hills, take a moment to consider its utility. Think of Twitter as a bullhorn waiting to be turned on, with investors, potential partners, physicians, and even patients eager to hear what you have to say.
To be sure, this industry faces greater scrutiny and more regulation than others, and it can be a bit daunting to navigate these uncharted waters when the FDA offers so little guidance. But if you choose to take that first brave step and make social media part of your marketing mix, make sure you have clear alignment across marketing, legal, and regulatory teams with regard to guidelines on what is and isn’t appropriate content for the company and/or its brands. Next, take a magnifying glass to your communications goals and see how they align with your social media goals—then map out how Twitter can help you meet both.
Once you’ve determined that Tweeting is the means to the end, you must follow the golden rule of social media: create content worth sharing. Interesting Tweets get read and spread, and engaging Tweeters earn responses and followers, while posts that offer little value or inspiration to connect or share get ignored. To ensure that your Tweets work for you, ask yourself these three questions each time you Tweet:
- Why am I posting this? Is it because I have something to say that primarily benefits my business, or is it because I know something my followers would find interesting, useful, or relevant? Consider your Tweet from the your readers’ perspective. If you can’t immediately pick out how they will benefit from the information you’re sharing, think twice about posting, or figure out a way to rework your Tweet so it becomes a welcome, engaging addition to their newsfeeds.
- What do I want my readers to do after reading my post? There are many legitimate answers to this, including absorb useful information, visit a link, provide feedback, retweet (RT) a post, offer a counterpoint—in short, ENGAGE. Be sure there is a clear call-to-action to let the reader know what to do. It can be as simple as directing someone to “Check out this link” or asking “What do you think?”
- What other conversations or trends can this Tweet connect with? Before composing your Tweets, do a quick Twitter search for a key term related to your topic. If there are any other relevant conversations already happening, feel free to connect with them:
- RT posts that have a similar or contrasting viewpoint
- Start a conversation with someone who appears to be an expert
- Answer a question that relates to your expertise
- Search for relevant hashtags (a way to mark keywords so they will more obviously appear in searches); then use them in your Tweets. For instance, we actively search out Tweets that include #hcsm (healthcare social marketing), #ehealth, #hcmktg (healthcare marketing), #meded (medical education), among others. There are many hashtags in use, so find (or create) ones relevant to you and your followers.
To wrap this up, Twitter is tailor-made not just for sharing, but also for discovery. So why not let pharma and other healthcare companies play? If you are new to Tweeting from a company or brand perspective, do some listening first. Follow brands that interest you, see how they engage, and take notes. When your objectives are clear and you have aligned your messaging with what’s approvable, apply all that you know about your audience and take that first step. When you do, you will be rewarded with the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with an audience that is ready and waiting to hear what you have to say.
For more tips and thought starters, View our presentation on SlideShare: Twitter 101 and Best Practices