Digital health perspectives in pharmaceutical marketing
First published: 26th September 2012
Digital health perspectives in
Serkan Erkovan shares his thoughts on digital within pharma in our latest 'digital
health perspective' interview with pharmaphorum's Rebecca Aris.
Serkan Erkovan is the co-founder and
former social media team lead at
Boehringer Ingelheim (BI). He regularly
speaks at events on the topics of social
media, digital marketing within pharma.
He is currently working on setting up
digital channels for stakeholders.
In other words; reps needs to switch to
different content without losing time, in
the case of internet connection speed
being low or the connection lost.
Browser based web applications should be
replaced with mobile applications, in
Serkan is the latest interviewee in our order to make use of fast browsing and the
'digital health perspectives' series and increased speed of information access.
offers here his views on digital within
In many surveys, it's obvious that,
physicians prefer usability. They have
His thoughts on social media, mobile
marketing and gamification can be found limited time for their rep interactions and
on Slideshare here and his digital views this speedy functionality will make their
can be found on Twitter here.
While designing communication
platforms, marketing teams have to make
RA: You've spoken before about how
sure that they establish clear goals and
pharma need to adapt to pharma 3.0, can
you explain what you mean by this? focus on them with key messages.
SE: Sure. Actually all new trends and
initiatives are a sub set of Pharma 3.0.
Pharma companies need to have different
tools in the evolving market and this leads
them to find new ways of communication
with health care professionals.
"Social media is a
Since technology is evolving, companies
should take into account that speed and RA: How can pharma companies keep
usability are the major bullets in their abreast of technological advancements that
will impact their social media strategy, and
why is it so important to do so?
Speed is the indispensable component in
considering that sales rep has a limited SE: Today being aligned with technological
advancements is totally another topic.
time frame in physician's office.
One of the key messages about speed When you create a mobile or a social
from my experience would be that you media app / platform, you need to track all
need to keep your content offline (as well OS versions in all platforms for the sake of
as online) on your mobile device.
You need to have few active users / opinion
leaders who are really following these new
enhancements and giving updates to get
you ready for the new releases before you
make you users unhappy.
I love the quote by Stephen Hawking, "We
are just an advanced breed of monkeys on
a minor planet of a very average star. But
we can understand the Universe. That
makes us something very special."
Technological advancements will continue
changing our way of adapting our
strategies – the main thing we should not
forget is that we, as healthcare providers,
have to focus on the humanity, with
another buzz word: "engagement".
"Social media is
It is about listening."
Social media is about engagement. It is
about listening. The first thing you should
do is listen to your target audience and
understand the expectations. That will
lead you to understand which
technological advancements and tools
might fit into your engagement strategy.
First published: 26th September 2012
RA: What have you learnt from your
involvement in the social media channels
SE: Social media is a long learning process.
It's a culture of being professional in your
private social media accounts; it's a way of
reflecting your company's code of conduct
to a virtual environment. It's all the same
story, the only difference is social media is
not physically present, it's a virtual
reflection of your real professional /
1. Start the engine. First thing you need to
do is to start with a digitally savvy group
of people in the company, where you'll
have brilliant and ideas.
2. Be "regulatory aligned". Your brilliant
ideas and contents should be aligned with
your local authority.
3. Be wise. Publish your rules of
engagement and don't disappoint your
followers with high expectations.
4. Allocate resources. You will need
someone inside or outside who will take
care of this communication channel.
5. Grow Ambassadors. Increase your
engagement level with your nice-sweetfantastic social media addicted colleagues.
6. Keep it Simple. Identify simple rules /
guidelines to ensure that social media is
governed by the company.
7. ROIs & KPIs. Since there's no ultimate
way of calculating your return on social
media investment, try to define KPIs for
Reprinted with the kind permission
RA: Finally, where do you see pharma
heading with respect to social media?
SE: Many corporations and global brands
have found adopting social media a
challenge. Most have turned a blind eye
often sitting the excuse "there's too much
regulation around the industry to get
involved". It's a very well-known fact that
pharma companies have been too slow to
manage their social media engagement
strategies effectively, compared to other
industries. And it's again clear that
companies that know how to start the
media dialogue through social media will
gain market share.
"Since there's no
ultimate way of
calculating your return
on social media
investment, try to define
KPIs for active
Pharma marketers will first need to adapt
this rapidly changing environment and
rethink the investment share of three
Must-Have investment lines: social media,
content marketing, and mobile.
Pharma needs to increase interaction with
its target audience and all stakeholders,
that is the key to success. Social media is
more than a Facebook page or twitter
account; you need an integrated social
media strategy undertaken by digitallysavvy team members who can adapt to
About the interviewee:
Serkan entered the pharma industry
with Boehringer Ingelheim in 2003
and successfully held cross functional
roles. During his business consultancy
time; he supported digital marketing,
stakeholder & KOL management and
CRM processes for Prescription
Medicine and Consumer Health Care
(OTC). He's the founder and former
social media team lead.
Serkan moved to Animal Health
Marketing as Product Manager in
2012, to manage the group of
Livestock Products & Vaccines.
Serkan holds an MBA degree from
Kadir Has University and Business
Informatics in German degree from
He's a regular speaker in international
pharma events. He's been invited to
local and global conferences about
sales & marketing and social media as
a speaker; like "Social Media in
Pharma Summit in Istanbul and
Eyeforpharma Sales & Marketing
Excellence Conference in Barcelona.
He likes travelling around the world,
taking photos, meeting new people
and sharing ideas.
He can be found on LinkedIn here.