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Client Success

Using social listening in pharma applications to optimize congress insights

social listening in pharma

Using social listening in pharma applications to optimize conference strategy and insights.


Pharma companies invest significant resources in annual medical conferences and other in-person and hybrid events, and it’s essential to maximize this investment through adequate preparation, meaningful participation, and actionable post-event activities. A medical affairs team within a leading pharmaceutical company wanted to make a strategic insight-gathering plan ahead of a major medical conference. Objectives included:

  1. Set up potential meetings, understand trends, and know who might be attending.
  2. During the event, the medical affairs team wanted to understand what topics the attendees were eager to discuss and know what they were discussing in real-time during the event about their own company and other trending topics.
  3. The medical affairs team also wanted to know the HCPs’ post-event impressions, what takeaways resonated with them the most, and which topics caught the attention of patient advocates and community online influencers.

The team knew that many of the HCPs in attendance were active on social media and that their influence shaped the opinions and behaviors of other key experts in their networks. However, the medical affairs team was unsure how to observe the HCPs’ activity online, process the volume of information, relate social handles
to real people, or filter the data in a way that would yield value.


The team used the Within3 insights management platform to develop and execute a social listening plan to automate and streamline gathering intel from online data sources. The medical affairs team leveraged the technology to gather information from relevant social networks and online forums throughout the event, easily tracking activities before, during, and after the conference.

Before the conference

The medical affairs team had multiple pre-conference goals for their social listening plan.
  1. Look for key trends. Before the event, the team analyzed what HCPs and KOLs were saying online to uncover unmet needs, challenges, and opportunities related to their specific disease community. This allowed the medical affairs team to understand prevailing sentiment and perceptions about various publications, trials, and therapies. Identifying key trends helped the team prepare their conference plan, tackling issues and emerging topics that were top of mind for the community.
  2. Identify key people. The client team wanted to know who would be speaking at the event and who was discussing the conference online ahead of the event. They also wanted to identify and leverage DOLs as experts in patient affairs and get a sense of rising stars building influence online. By mapping out the key people, the team could proactively plan their in-person and virtual engagements sessions during the event, knowing whose voices were impacting the community the most.
  3. Continue refining questions. The medical affairs team used this information to refine insight collection strategies, plan one-on-one meetings, and explore the possibility of adding virtual elements to speed information-gathering during the conference. This near real-time information provided the medical affairs team confidence about which topics to address with which experts, and the ability to focus their efforts more strategically while attending the conference.

During the conference

Medical conferences include a lot of activity in a compressed amount of time, and attendees feel compelled to make the most of the one-on-one opportunities available. This contributes to the event’s energy but leaves little time for colleagues to confer, share impressions in real-time, or get a big-picture view of trending topics. The client team used social listening to do most of this work for them.
  1. Monitor near real-time data. With an onsite presence and social listening in place, the team collated expert insights from in-person and virtual sources. The ability to automatically gather and generate real-time insights about topics allowed the on-site team to focus on making connections and recording observations from interactions in an asynchronous platform.
  2. Discuss insights internally. The medical affairs team monitored real-time activity from social media and gathered observations from team members at the event in the Within3 platform. This process allowed for collaboration and support from offsite team members who reached out with key findings and observations.
  3. Follow up and engage. The real-time monitoring and data collection allowed the team to quickly identify points that needed follow-up, allowing the team to iterate and expand upon their original questions, which lead to richer insights. In addition, by coordinating with the Digital Engagement Lead, content being published on social media by the company was properly timed to harness the most engagement.

After the conference

Maintaining momentum after a conference is crucial to relationship-building and informing additional insight-gathering. Equipped with data from before, during, and after the conference, the team was well-positioned to build on insights gathered.
  1. Continue monitoring trends. The team continued used social media listening during the days following the event, allowing them to track real-time discussions and takeaways being shared by participants to understand which topics transcended the conference and the community’s reaction to them.
  2. Report and share information. The team compared social media impact before, during, and after the conference and reconciled this data to confirm expectations or report on new or unexpected insights, incorporating findings into subsequent engagements.
  3. Continue engaging. Due to the insights gained from social listening, the team created a strategy to deepen opinion leader relationships, engaged with DOLs to learn from their experience within the community, and planned a follow-up virtual advisory board session for KOLs.


By employing social listening and monitoring before, during, and after the congress, the medical affairs team could be more precise in their planning and more strategic about insight-gathering. Rather than targeting the same KOLs and topics as their competitors, the team was able to dial into novel observations and use this new information to inform their business strategy.

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