Social media marketing for pharmaceutical companies on Weibo (China)


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Healthcare in general, and pharmaceutical industry in particular, are both heavily regulated industries, prone to reputation exposure, and at the heart of web users conversations with more than 20% of topics related to this field.

If "big pharma" is now efficient on social media in the West, it is still absent from Weibo, one of China's main social media platforms.

Obstacles exist, but opportunities lie ahead of those able to have a clear strategy, tools such as guidelines, processes in case of a crisis, and the spirit of social media.

Discover what is social media in China, who the Weibo users are, what are the main issues for pharma companies, and inspire from successful best practices of social media marketing and campaigns on this micro-blogging network.

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Social media marketing for pharmaceutical companies on Weibo (China)

  1. 1. Social  media  marke-ng     for  pharmaceu-cal  companies   on  Weibo   July  2013  
  2. 2. Social  media  in  China   The  most  connected  and  social  country   •  China  has  the  world’s  largest  online  community,  with  564M  web  users  in  2012,  74%  of   which  on  mobile  devices   •  95%  of  people  living  in  Tier  1,  2  and  3  ci-es  are  on  social  media   0   10   20   30   40   50   60   70   80   90   100   China   Japan   Korea   USA   Cross-­‐country  Comparison  of  Social  Media  Usage  [1]   No.  of  mins  avg  Internet   user  spend  on  social   media/day   %  of  Internet  Users  Using   Social  Media  
  3. 3. Social  media  in  China   An  ecosystem  of  its  own   •  Facebook,  TwiUer,  Youtube,  all  have  Chinese  counterparts,  which  are  similar,  but  not   clones  
  4. 4. Weibo  key  features   A  TwiUer-­‐like  under  steroids   •  140  characters  in  Chinese   packs  much  more   informa-on  than  140   characters  in  English   •  More  tools  are  available   for  interac-ons  than  on   TwiUer  (comments,   emo-cons,  polls…)   •  Pos-ng  of  pictures  and   video  is  easy,  giving  more   flexibility  for  online   campaigns  
  5. 5. Pharmaceu-cal  players  on  Weibo   Brands  vs.  influent  vigilantes   •  Few  pharmaceu-cal  companies  are  on  Weibo  except  Quin-le  and  Bayer  China   •  General  mistrust  &  health  scandals  have  vigilante  groups  taken  to  Weibo  to  evaluate   pharma  brands  &  product.   •  Vigilante  groups  publish  industry  news,  and  are  managed  by  well-­‐respected  members   of  the  medical  profession,  with  significant  influence.   Profile  page  of  China  Pharmaceu9cal  Associa9on  Credibility  Evalua9on  Branch  
  6. 6. Rules  &  use  of  social  media  in  China   Real-­‐name  system  &  poli-cal  censorship   •  To  crack  down  on  poli-cally  sensi-ve  issues,  Weibo  users  nos  have  to  register  their  real   iden-ty   •  As  a  result,  new  registra-on  dropped  from  20M  new  accounts  per  month  to  2.5M   •  That  being  said,  commercial  ac-vi-es  are  largely    unaffected    
  7. 7. Rules  &  use  of  social  media  in  China   Vigilante  Communi-es   •  A  2012  Dartmouth  study  shows  Weibo  helps  to  reduce  bad  drugs  by  pushing   authori-es  to  monitor  and  deter  its  produc-on   •  In  provinces  where  Weibo  usage  has  doubled,  bad  drug  produc-on  has  been   discovered  to  fall  by  up  to  42%  in  the  same  period   •  Vigilante  groups  can  be  highly  benefical  for  established  brands  with  FDA  approved   products  
  8. 8. Pharmaceu-cal  industry  online   Reputa-on  as  a  new  risk  and  opportunity   •  Pharmaceu-cal  companies  are  slow  to  go  on  social  media,  even  when  US  physicians   are  84%  to  turn  to  internet  to  look  for  pharma-­‐related  informa-on  (2008)   •  Chinese  pharma  company  Renhe  Pharmacy  lost  1bn  RMB  in  March  2013  due  to  an   uncorrected  rumor,  re-­‐posted  by  celebrity  Wen  Zhang  to  its  26M  fans     •  Proper  guidelines  and  processes  can  mi-gate  these  risks,  as  well  as  monitoring  and   crisis  management  training.  
  9. 9. Pharmaceu-cal  regula-ons  online   Lack  of  FDA  regula-ons   •  Strict  regula-ons  are  imposed  by  FDA  and  other  authori-es,  even  if  they  too,  have   been  slow  to  catch  up  on  social  media   •  Clear  internal  guidelines  and  promo-on  of  content  on  ethics,  regula-on,  is  an   opportunity  both  for  branding  and  promo-on  
  10. 10. Pharmaceu-cal  regula-ons  online   Fragility  of  trust   •  In  the  pharmaceu-cal  industry,  customer  trust  and  confidence  are  of  paramount   importance   •  Reassurance  is  a  priority,  before  thinking  of  sales-­‐focused  marke-ng  campaigns   •  Social  media  can  be  used  to  build  a  rela-onship,  leverage  personal  stories  and  exert   transparency   Collabora9on,  transparency  and  branding:  an  efficient  social  media  strategy  from  Sanofi  
  11. 11. Pharmaceu-cal  regula-ons  online   Unclear  ROI   •  Social  media  ROI  can’t  be  compared  with  tradi-onal  marke-ng  ROI   •  With  significant  lower  costs  to  go  on  social  media  and  the  power  of  communi-es  and   word-­‐of-­‐mouth,  there  is  no  reason  for  pharmaceu-cal  companies  to  be  deterred  from   going  social   •  Insights  from  social  media  and  trust  built  with  consumers  are  a  first  clear  return,  to   name  a  few  
  12. 12. Pharmaceu-cal  regula-ons  online   Customers  are  solici-ng  informa-on   •  Brands  are  expected  and  needed  online,  to  correct,  answer,  and  interact  with   customers  who  speak  of  them  everyday   •  In  a  2013  LSE  survey  of  online  healthcare  forums,  a  quarter  of  the  800  analyzed  posts   explicitly  solicited  informa-on,  and  informa-ve  dialogues  comprise  a  majority  of   conversa-on  threads   •  adop-ng  an  educa-onal  and  informa-ve  approach  to  social  media  presence  profiling   can  aid  pharmaceu-cal  companies    
  13. 13. Social  marke-ng  on  Weibo   Average  Weibo  user  profile   •  Highly  likely  to  be  a   resident  of  a  major   Chinese  city  (eg.   Beijing,  Shanghai,   Guangzhou)   •  Not  likely  to  create   original  content;   Chinese  users  have   shown  a  high   preference  for   repos-ng  or  sharing   content   •  Likely  to  have  strong   engagement  with  key   content  creators  (eg.   celebri-es,   conversa-on  makers)  
  14. 14. Social  marke-ng  on  Weibo   Product-­‐specific  channels   •  Certain  companies  employ  different  accounts  to  engage  different  customers,   segmented  by  its  products  and  services.     •  For  instance,  high-­‐class  wine  producer  Remy  Mar-n  set  up  separate  accounts   dedicated  to  different  products,  since  the  customers  of  each  product  class  have  varying   profiles.  
  15. 15. Social  marke-ng  on  Weibo   Event  organiza-on  and  updates   •  For  companies  with  a  heavy  emphasis  on  event  marke-ng  and  promo-on,  Weibo   serves  as  a  very  effec-ve  plaporm  to  keep  followers  in  the  loop  on  upcoming  events   and  in  gathering  aUendance.   •  A  good  example  is  Louis  VuiUon,  which  capitalizes  on  Weibo  to  announce  cultural   events,  product  launches,  post  videos  of  interviews,  feature  the  backstage  of  fashion   shows  and  even  reveal  product  launch  teasers.  
  16. 16. Social  marke-ng  on  Weibo   Contests  &  Sweepstakes   •  Contests  and  sweepstakes  are  the  perfect  strategies  to  amp  up  user  engagement  in  a   very  short  period  of  -me,  which  KFC  did  for  Valen-ne’s  Day  in  China.   •  The  contest  involves  fill  in  the  blanks  on  the  two  images  posted  by  KFC  to  make  a   complete  sentence.  Par-cipants  need  to  write  down  the  answer  in  comments  box  as   well  and  repost  it  for  a  chance  to  win  a  camera.  The  first  fill  in  the  blank  image  received   1376  comments  and  1524  reposts,  and  the  second  received  747  comments  and  913   reposts.  
  17. 17. Social  marke-ng  on  Weibo   Social  gaming   •  Weibo  offers  social  games,  similar  to  those  hosted  on  Facebook.  Brands  can  actually   create  social  games  for  users,  awarding  them  with  brand-­‐related  awards.     •  Certain  companies  can  also  add  a  gaming  element  to  social  interac-ons  and  networking   involving  their  brand.  For  instance,  Nike  gave  users  who  share  its  event  informa-on   copiously  with  branded  virtual  awards,  which  further  proliferated  its  brand  awareness  
  18. 18. Social  marke-ng  on  Weibo   Crea-ng  micro-­‐subjects   •  Like  TwiUer,  Weibo  also  has  the  hashtags  func-on,  which  allows  brands  to  create   micro-­‐subjects  that  users  can  easily  find  and  follow   .     •  For  example,  Lancome  u-lizes  the  hashtags  to  generate  threads  of  make-­‐up  -ps  and   personal  styling  using  their  products,  thus  making  it  very  easy  for  followers  to  be   constantly  updated  of  new  -ps.  
  19. 19. Social  marke-ng  on  Weibo   Discounts  &  promo-ons   •  Weibo  users,  like  most  consumers,  respond  powerfully  to  direct  and  tangible   incen-ves.     •  Dell  Computer  frequently  uses  Weibo  to  share  coupons,  -me-­‐sensi-ve  flash  codes  and   special  promo-ons,  which  highly  incen-ves  users  to  follow  Dell’s  profile  and  frequently   engage  in  its  threads  
  20. 20. Social  marke-ng  on  Weibo   Market  research  &  consulta-on   •  When  customers  are  included  in  the  product  innova-on  process,  they  feel  a  stronger   sense  of  belonging  and  loyalty  to  the  brand   •  A  prime  example  of  a  brand  that  chose  this  approach  is  Vancl,  which  has  one  of  the   highest  engagement  rates  on  Weibo.     •  It  frequently  asks  its  consumers  ques-ons  and  organizes  polls  regarding  its  consumers’   lifestyle  and  the  brand.  The  informa-on  collected  is  fed  back  into  the  feedback  loop   and  incorporated  into  the  design  of  future  products.    
  21. 21. Key  takeaways   An  untapped  poten-al   •  Weibo  holds  incredible  poten-al  for   pharmaceu-cal  brands   •  Many  brands  are  on  Weibo,  but  almost  none   from  the  pharmaceu-cal  industry   •  Pharmaceu-cal  brands  are  on  Facebook,  TwiUer,   LinkedIn,  but  miss  the  huge  Chinese  market   •  Obstacles  exist,  but  can  be  circumvented  with   methodologies,  guidelines,  and  monitoring   •  Messages  must  be  validated  carefully,  and  a   follow-­‐up  must  know  what  is  being  done  with   the  message   •  It  seems  riskier  not  to  embrace  social  media   marke-ng  as  all  trends  show  an  inescapable  shiq   of  aUen-on  onto  social  media.  
  22. 22. Bibliography   •  [1]  "Insights  &  Publica-ons."  China's  Social-­‐media  Boom.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [2]  "Social  Media  Infographics:  Weekly  Updated,  Version  1.2."   Social  Media  Infographics:  Weekly  Updated,  Version  1.2.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [3]    "Social  Web  Marke-ng  in  China."  Labbrand  Brand  Innova-ons.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [4]    Qin,  Bei.  "More  Weibo  Use,  Fewer  Bad  Drugs."  Diss.  Dartmouth  University,  2012.  Abstract.   Dartmouth,  12  Dec.  2012.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [5]  "China-­‐Drugs."  -­‐  Royal  Economic  Society.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [6]  USA.  IBM.   Benchmarking  Data  Reveals  Pharmaceu-cal  Industry  Not  Connec-ng  Social  Media  Data  with   Marke-ng  Strategies.  By  Diana  Liu.  IBM  Ins-tute  for  Business  Value,  Jan.  2012.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [7]  "Pharmaceu-cal  Marke-ng."  Wikipedia.  Wikimedia  Founda-on,  05  Sept.  2013.  Web.  31  May   2013.   •  [8]  "Pharmaceu-cal  Company  Loses  1b  Yuan  aqer  140-­‐word  Weibo  Message."  South  China   Morning  Post.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [9]  "Pharmaceu-cal  Companies  in  Social  Media."  Pharmaceu-cal  Companies  in  Social  Media.  N.p.,   n.d.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [10]  " Why  Social  Media  Is  Good  for  Medicine  and  Why  Pharmaceu-cal  Companies  Should  Engage   Online."  Charlie  BeckeU.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [11]  "拜耳中国官方微博."  Web  log  post.  微博.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [12]  "微博营销:如何打动消费者."  微博营销:如何打动消费者.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  31  May  2013.   •  [13]  "中国医药物资协会-­‐信用评价办."  Web  log  post.  微博.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  1  June  2013.   •  [14]    "医药消费者购买行为分析."  医药消费者购买行为分析.  N.p.,  12  Nov.  2012.  Web.  31  May   2013.  
  23. 23. Thanks!       Mar-n  Pasquier,  Agence  Tesla     Latest  news  on