Dentists: Know your online market

We’ve said it enough times but patients and physicians are spending an increasing amount of time online. If they’re discussing or commenting on your drugs, those of your competitors or having conversations about a disease area that your business is active in then whats going on is relevant to your market.

Businesses have always sought to understand whats going on in their market and this requirement still stands. But why do so many healthcare businesses now fail to account for the market activity that’s taking place online a space whose relevance has risen significantly over the last decade and one that will only continue to grow in importance in the coming years?

Its all too easy to dismiss whats taking place online and on social media if, as a business, you choose not to look there. Many pharma companies have taken this approach for fear of opening the can of worms that is adverse event reporting if you become aware then you need to report it. But given that a 2011 study by Visible Intelligence found that less than 0.5 percent of social media mentions of pharma brands contained an actionable adverse event, is this reasoning warranted? Wed argue not, and whilst pharma companies may be satisfied to turn a blind eye to whats going on online, this doesnt change the fact that things are happening so surely it would be better to be informed about it and at least be able to take action where necessary?

KEY REASONS TO KNOW WHATS GOING ON ONLINE

» It is a large and growing area of market activity it’s too big and too important to ignore

» There is a lot of commercially useful and interesting information available (if you know how to find it)

» Your competitors could already be doing something in this space and may well develop a competitive advantage

» If you invest in online & digital assets then small tweaks to optimize these assets can yield big returns

» The language used online can differ to that used offline knowing how could make or break an online or digital investment

This raises the issue of how a business should go about finding out whats going on market research is an important part of the mix but the nature of online and social media activity is changing the nature of the market faster than traditional research agencies have been able to adapt.

The role of the specialist has always been important within fields of market research and business intelligence. There are specialists in qual, specialists in quant, specialists in ethnography, specialists in patient research and specialists in KOL research to name just a few. With the rising importance of online and social media activity within your market, wed argue that this calls for a specialist with specific expertise in this area.

KEY REASONS TO USE A SPECIALIST

» Language is different online knowing what to look for and what to spot is crucial in developing the right communications

» Attention (duration and what captures it) is different online knowing how this differs to offline can help transform your marketing activity

» Finding interesting and relevant information online is a particular skill a specialist will know where to look and how to find it

» Regulatory compliance is a critical business discipline … specialists are best placed to navigate this whilst maintaining best practice

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