Since social networking sites and blogs gradually became mainstream, brands started exploring this medium to reach out to their target customers, market, and expert influencers.
Looking over a year period, pharmaceutical brands are promoted online through:
- Blogger feature
Companies invite bloggers, influential users in the community or field they are in to contribute original content or be featured. This gives mutual recognition.
- Event blogging
Companies organize brand-related events and invite bloggers. To encourage them to write, a special contest is sometimes organized giving a special prize for the best post-event write-up.
- Blog writing contest
Bloggers and companies can organizing writing projects that best suit their product theme.
- User ideas submission
Target audience or users can come up with major activities that encourages user audience to participate where the winner(s) who get the prize is able to partake in an exclusive event.
- Photo submission and voting
Users submit a photo meeting the contest theme. In order to win, judging and / or enough votes must be garnered from the community. Purchase may be required in order to join or vote.
- User story submission and voting
Participant submit a story meeting the contest theme. In order to win, judging and / or enough votes must be garnered from the community.
- Photo tagging in social networks
This is now popular with sites like Facebook that allows users to tag photos. Those with the most number of tags, like, and comments win.
- "Like" a Facebook page
As shared by Iris, this is where Facebook users are encouraged to become a Facebook fan and win a prize (or participate in its future promotions).
- Depending on the prize, some users join the contest even if they don't believe or like the product or event.
- Photo and video tagging through Facebook is tantamount to spamming as you can tag around 50 people or more in one photo or video. So to counter this negative perception, what some brands have done is also provide a prize to those who give comments and like votes.
- Accusation of fake accounts created to participate in the voting is also seen in some contest. This gives a lot of challenge to contest organizers to monitor bot-votes and the likes.
As shown in the slides I embedded in this post, a growing number of pharmaceutical companies are embracing social media and the blogging community in promoting their products. Most of these are done in the exercise of promoting brand awareness.
However, pharmaceutical companies need to do more beyond just giving us commercial messages. In this time when there are so many supplements with no approved therapeutic claims and BFAD recognized medicines whose safety is questioned, pharmaceutical companies need to give us more information even if the government doesn't compel it.