Pew Research Center indicates that 87 percent of Americans are using the Internet regularly. With social and digital media becoming ever-more prevalent, it makes sense that within the clinical trial industry, researchers are now looking to it as a way to control some of the escalating R&D costs and make the process more patient-centric.
By definition social media listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand on the Internet. This method is quickly becoming an important intelligence tool to understand what is being said publicly about their brand or their people.
In clinical research, social media listening is really about understanding how your audience – primarily patients and physicians, prefer to receive information. For instance, are they using social media and if so, what sites do they prefer? Are the sites picture based? Video based? Or are the formats more like blogs? What formats promote the best retention?
According to a whitepaper published by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development on industry usage of social and digital media communities in clinical research, many companies are using social media to recruit patients for clinical trials. In North America alone, about 11 percent of trials involve social media communications including posting ads on mainstream sites like Facebook about upcoming trials to interactively engage patients.
Understanding how your audience likes to receive information, and what formats make lasting impressions, provide valuable insight into how to best recruit patients for clinical trials. If for instance your audience shares more pictures and videos than blog articles, it might be prudent to stay away from building a Facebook page and instead focusing on Instagram.
On the flip side, social listening provides insight into what patients might be saying publicly about a particular trial or drug – both positive and negative. Listening to what participants have to say and then responding can be a huge competitive advantage.
We will be exploring more topics around social media and its effects on clinical trials in the coming weeks. Stay tuned and as always, follow up on Twitter @BBKWorldwide.