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By Luke Rogers, Within3 Senior Director of Business Partnerships

Life science companies rely on engagement with internal and external stakeholders to gather strategic insights – but what is the best way to engage different global audiences while remaining compliant and driving results?

At the recent Global Insights conference, the world’s top pharma brands got together to share insights into best practices around engaging patients and HCPs via digital channels. Engaging with these important audiences has always had its compliance and logistical challenges, but in 2020 it became much more difficult.

In 2020, life science companies were forced to implement digital engagement. Based on lessons learned and capabilities developed during the pandemic, I believe this need will remain even after in-person meetings are once again possible.

At the Global Insights event, I had the opportunity to share some best practice experiences of pharmaceutical and medtech teams leveraging digital engagement and some tactics the rest of the industry can implement to achieve better results from every interaction.

Social listening versus targeted insights generation

Pharma teams can be risk-averse and therefore shy away from social media activity. And with good reason – a post or comment that’s perceived as too promotional or not compliant can be more trouble than it’s worth, and many companies have learned the hard way that it can seem like there’s no pleasing anyone, let alone everyone.

Rather, teams should focus on listening and insight generation via their digital channels. An insight is a fundamental truth about target customers that companies can leverage for competitive advantage and to drive growth, and gathering more of them is a great way to add value internally. Digital teams can develop metrics and tools that tell the story of who clicked, subscribed, or viewed your materials and why, and in doing so become an important resource for other functional teams.

By understanding more about what content triggers engagement, internal stakeholders can build on those areas of interest.

Achieving compliant, ROI-positive digital engagement

Switching the focus to insight generation gives digital teams a measurable purpose. The insights gained can open new geographical markets, generate opportunities to use targeted messaging, and help identify key digital opinion leaders using social listening.

This requires a shift from observing what the customer said or did to understanding why the customer said or did it. This distinction paves the way for fresh perspectives and an appreciation for the customer’s reality. In a 2020 survey of what patients want from pharmaceutical companies, 66% responded that it’s important the company seeks patient input. Clearly, there’s a desire to feel understood.

To make this shift, pharma teams should cultivate relationships with digital opinion leaders, or DOLs. Slightly different from KOLs, DOLs are scientific or patient experts who maintain a significant presence on social media and other digital platforms. Once identified, there are different ways to engage DOLs – you can leverage them as moderators for other types of insight-gathering discussions, or put together a panel of these experts to help inform and shape your own digital engagement strategy.

At Within3, we help clients design hybrid-virtual insight sessions, which preserve the element of live peer-to-peer exchange via real-time virtual engagement along with the benefits of asynchronous, or over-time discussion. This format enables compliant group engagement, builds stakeholder rapport, and yields maximum productivity.

Key takeaways

Your digital engagement strategy can be a powerful tool in transforming your team’s ability to make faster and more accurate decisions. When you’re building that strategy, remember the following:

  • When it comes to social media, it’s better to take a listen and learn approach
  • Digital opinion leaders can be powerful allies
  • Resist the urge to simply create buzz – instead, create opportunities for insight generation that are valuable, measurable, and actionable
  • Use industry-specific platforms built around compliance and security

To learn more about how hybrid engagement works for life science teams, read a customer success story.

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