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Twitter: The best channel to reach HCPs?

Building an omnichannel strategy using the right platforms for you

Social media is now a well-established component of an effective integrated omnichannel marketing strategy. But what is the appropriate weighting for each of these composite platforms? Recently many of our clients have being asking us what role Twitter can play as a marketing channel to HCPs. And while the platform has witnessed a surge in intra-physician communication – backed up by social listening data – is it really the right channel to target HCPs?

As of 2021, Twitter has ~68.7 million active US-based users (comprising 19.4% of the global total), with the largest age demographic being adults aged 25-49. According to Pew research, 92% of U.S. Tweets come from only 10% of Twitter users, meaning those active HCPs are few, but vocal.

While a recent Underscore survey of cardiologists revealed that only 21% recalled seeing a Twitter advertisement that prompted them to click through deeper and only 11% used the platform to learn about new products for their practice, we see a clear opportunity for Twitter to be blended in as part of a holistic social media strategy.

Coronavirus Impact: US Adults Who Have Significantly Increased* Their Usage of Social Media, by Platform; May 2020 % of respondents

And this social strategy should also be complemented by other mediums like journals and conferences – which ranked highest in the survey, garnering 60% and 45% respectively – along with Paid Search and LinkedIn that ranked similarly to Twitter (with the extra bonus of being able to target and limit wasted spend using these channels).

To maximize the value you derive from Twitter, the first challenge to address is reaching your target list and target audience. While you can upload a target list, you can only match to emails – and most emails on Twitter are for personal use. Platforms like Sermo, Doximity, and LinkedIn allow you to reach your target list based on their NPI number. Although Twitter does have interest-based targeting, getting granular visibility of HCPs requires work. Thus, Underscore’s first recommendation for using Twitter centers around hyper targeting based on conferences, KOL Twitter handles and retargeting.

  • Target conferences through geolocation and hashtags. Utilizing both will allow you to target physicians that are physically at the conferences as well as those following along virtually.
  • Target followers and look-a-like audiences. This is where social listening will connect to your target audience. When social listening finds those organizations and HCPs that are vocal and sharing information, procedures or cases about your target specialty, Twitter can build an audience based on followers and create look-a-like audiences based on people with similar interests.
  • Last is re-targeting: This allows you to create custom audiences based on users that have visited your website and then Twitter. However, Twitter won’t start advertising until 100 users have visited your website and Twitter. So, if you are marketing a rare disease with low website volume, this could be a challenge.

All of this combined hyper-targeting will help you achieve maximum reach at a smaller scale. But there is a disclaimer: the cost may not be beneficial as you compare the overall reach (small) to the cost of creating assets and pushing them through MLR, so make sure to run your numbers.

Our second recommendation is for using large-scale messaging once all other social channels have been exhausted. For mass market products such as OTC medication, you can reach a large audience that is actively scrolling through Twitter. However, if you are targeting HCPs, this will create a lot of waste – so we’d only recommend this if you are also targeting patients and will benefit from the scale. What’s more, it’s important to factor in all components when approaching a Twitter campaign: both content and MLR must be considered as an integral piece of your strategy.

Overall, we believe that Twitter could be a viable option as part of your overall omnichannel strategy. However, Twitter should be used as a complementary tool as part of an exhaustive, overarching (social) media strategy. It should be combined with other emerging channels like TikTok – which is now the fastest growing social media platform and is seeing significant engagement from both pharma companies and HCPs alike.

“Both content creation and MLR costs must be considered as an integral piece of your strategy and ROI analysis.”
John Marino, VP Strategy

And we would also recommend that you explore other social channels like LinkedIn and Facebook – as well as industry-nuanced tools like Doximity and Sermo – and ensure sufficient budget is reserved for these equally potent platforms that enable more accurate HCP targeting, before deciding on your dedicated Twitter outlay.

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