Super Marketer: Saving Social Media

Greetings fellow marketer. Your social media marketing strategy is about to change. Because I’m here to tell you that you have a super power: you are a patient.

Before you run off to turn your DCoEs into your own Justice League, let me take off my Clark Kent glasses (that make me virtually unrecognizable, I know) and share my origin story. My name is Tina. I am a marketer. I am also a patient.

My Story

I was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when I was young. Like most, I had trouble concentrating, paying attention, and sitting still. But something almost magical happened when I was able to be artistic. I did better in my classes and actively participated in extracurricular activities and made more friends. I could finally keep up with my rollercoaster of a mind. Being creative transformed me into a brand-new kid. For me, art was not only an effective supporting therapy but also the bridge that helped me find a career that I love.

As a patient, I am filled to the brim with information about how this condition affects me. For starters, I know creative outlets help me manage my symptoms. I also know that my medication can mess with my appetite. I’m still forgetful and aloof sometimes. But, one of my biggest pain points is that my sister “doesn’t believe ADHD is real.”

Just like 93 million other Americans, I’ve researched my condition, treatment options, and side effects and interactions of those treatment options via a search engine like Google. I have never looked for health information on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media platform.

What do I want on social media? I want patient testimonials and I want them to go deeper and be more relevant to me. I want simple ways to live a healthier life and I want a support system outside of my friends and family.

Okay – time to put those glasses back on. TA-DA! I’m a super-marketer filled with insights to inform my social media strategy. Looking at the pain points I mentioned previously, what kind of content would “Patient” Tina find valuable?

Content that Empowers Patients

I want patients to feel relentless, capable, and strong. Why not share stories about professional/successful artists with ADHD? Hearing from like-minded patients would certainly empower me. That’s just one way to drive home that this condition doesn’t have to be an obstacle in life, but can actually be a stepping stone to something beautiful.

Biogen recently hired retired pro hockey player Bryan Bicknell as a spokesperson to share his MS fight and promoted it on his SnapChat story. His story resonates with his followers, Canadians, hockey players/enthusiasts, and sport lovers. But, the most inspiring part is hearing how he’s prioritizing his family and focusing his time growing closer with his wife and seeing his children grow.

See full video of the example here. The sponsored story leads to this link.

Content that Supports Healthy Behaviors and Practices

A lot of ADHD therapies affect appetite and can lead to weight loss and vitamin deficiencies. I know from experience that if I’m not hungry, it’s easy to forget to eat. So how could I use that insight to help support healthy behaviors and eating habits? These are ADHD patients we are talking about, so posting a recipe for a vitamin packed smoothie is great, but you have to go further and focus on ease and making it easy to remember. For Example:

Here’s another recipe for this week’s bulk meal prep and planning. Tip: Set some alarms throughout the day to remind you to eat, if you haven’t yet. #healthyhabits

Allergan’s LINZESS even went as far to develop an entire cookbook. That’s some serious ass-kicking value right there.

Content that Provides Emotional Support

Knowing my sister thinks my condition is a load of crap doesn’t feel good, to say the least. I’m sure there are patients who struggle with friends and family members who have the same misconception, but where do I find them? An emotional support system isn’t something I’d spend time researching the way I would for condition information. Pharma marketers could build and support a community like this on or off social media.

If the idea of an open discussion gives med-leg-reg the chills, consider unbranded social accounts.

Take for example Novartis’s unbranded website “Living Like You,” a support site with blog posts and articles, an interactive questionnaire with a very light touch of MS disease-state education. What a valuable tactic! That’s the kind of content patients want to see on social media. And you guessed it, they have a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, and a dedicated Pinterest board.

Saving Social Media

Trying to keep up with the latest innovations, new digital tactics, and emerging technology, while still maintaining fair balance in such a highly regulated industry can be a headache. When it comes to art and design, the best strategy is to keep it simple. Marketing should do the same. Don’t let regulatory challenges make you forget the most basic principle: We are all patients, and we all have insights to share.

Super-marketers are starting to come together to save social media already. The villain defeated? Handling fair balance and ISI. Take for example Botox’s new Facebook ads with scrolling ISI at the bottom. What a great way to maintain fair balance without ending videos with ISI that no one is seeing. Patients don’t want to hear the mumbo-jumbo of side effects and black box warnings, and they aren’t watching the full videos. You have to have it, of course, so showing it this way is a real game-changer.

I know we’re not fictional characters and we’re not armed with super-suits or bat-mobiles. But, our personal insights and experiences are one of the strongest super powers there is. Can we band together and save social media from pharma’s cookie-cutter, sales-y tagline posts and start using social media to provide patients real value? I say, yes.


Read Pharma Is Using Social Media Like A Total Noob to see the two ways pharma is using social media ineffectively and what you should avoid.

Tina Niemynski
Tina has over 12 years’ experience in graphic and web design/development and animation and 5 years’ experience in digital strategy. She holds an A.S. in Advertising Design & Graphic Technology from SUNY Ulster, a B.A. in Graphic Design from SUNY College at Oneonta and an M.F.A in Media Design from Full Sail University.

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