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For medical device companies, social media is not the best marketing tool

Arundhati Parmar

Healthcare social media is something that many companies are embracing, or at least trying to, but sometimes the prudent thing may be to avoid platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

That’s the advice from a healthcare marketer, the bulk of whose clients are medical device companies.

“We have clients who have told us, ‘We need to have a Facebook page’ and there are times that we have told them that your social media strategy on that should be not to have one …,” said Cassie Benowitz, account supervisor at Minneapolis-based StoneArch Creative.

That’s because the customers of medical device companies — typically physicians and hospital administrators — don’t use Facebook or Twitter to gather information about a product.

“The thing about Facebook is that that’s not necessarily where a physician audience is going to go to look for clinical information or even an administrator audience,” she said. “We really start with an audit, then we look at their competitive landscape and then we make recommendations that are going to be very, very focused on their particular audience. We take a look at their objective and find the best way to meet it rather than saying, ‘You need a Facebook page and we can help you design it.’ ”

If using social channels or even online tools, Benowitz recommends using less consumer-oriented platforms that are more narrowly focused on healthcare. One channel that is gaining popularity is Sermo, an online network for physicians. Another effective method is to develop product-specific YouTube channels and then make the channel available to a select audience.

Her reticence in recommending Facebook and Twitter to clients stems from the fact that both of these channels are heavy traffic zones and need to be monitored constantly.

“Social media is very labor intensive. To do it well, you need to be very active about it and to try to do it everywhere is more than what most of our clients have the desire or the capacity to do,” Benowitz said. “Unless there is someone there whose sole job is to watch your FaceBook page and respond to comments and has the training to do so,” it’s best not to pursue them.

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