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Pharma USA 2023: Digital Strategies to Captivate Your Audience Based on HCP Behavior


How media consumption is evolving and modifying digital and social strategies to best capture the behavioral changes of HCPs towards digital platforms.

In the panel discussion: “Captivate Our Audience by Driving Industry-Leading Content that integrates Real Shifts in Consumption Behavior and User Expectations” held at Pharma USA 2023 in Philadelphia, panelists discussed how media consumption is evolving and modifying digital and social strategies to best capture the behavioral changes of HCPs towards digital platforms and more.

Panelists included: Moderator Juliana Shimer, Director, Global Marketing. Alnvlam; Ashley Ryneska, Executive Director, Digital, Gilead; Gaetan Akinrolabu Director Corporate Marketing and Digital Media - Strategy Channels and Content Mirati Therapeutics; and Marcy Rudowitz, Associate Director, Global Voice of Customer Program, Moderna

From left to right: Moderator Juliana Shimer, Ashley Ryneska, Gaetan Akinrolabu, and Marcy Rudowitz

From left to right: Moderator Juliana Shimer, Ashley Ryneska, Gaetan Akinrolabu, and Marcy Rudowitz

What best practices do you see in your roles that you can share, when it comes to effectively handling data?

Marcy Rudowitz, Associate Director, Global Voice of Customer Program, Moderna: "From a starting point it’s being having a way to be able to unify those datasets. Planning ahead in the roadmap that we're not going to look at datasets and silos, specifically between different groups, but that we can also bring those together not only from commercial, but from medical affairs and other groups, together, so that we can unlock deeper insights collectively.”

Gaetan Akinrolabu Director Corporate Marketing and Digital Media - Strategy Channels and Content Mirati Therapeutics: “The way that I find [data] easiest to assess…look at things in different quadrants. I look at it from an informative perspective…internal and external sources. We take look at our HCP audience partnered with a consumer research company to get a clearer idea of the skill within different channels at different times, and then really assess the industry, but then look at our overall budget for the year and get a clear idea of where do we want to fish? Then I'm looking at directionally, that data set really gives me a clearer idea of our population. I work for a biotech that focuses very specifically on a rare form of lung cancer—our patient and HCP populations are very particular, so getting that mix of informative and directional, really provides us with the rationale on how we can be creating content that speaks directly to our target audience. And then using a similar data stack that takes all of this data and puts them in one place, so that you can easily pull levers on a regular basis.”

Ashley Ryneska, Executive Director, Digital, Gilead: “It’s really introducing for a lot of organizations, a real moment of change management conversation. I think we all have the best intentions to be unified in our approach and measurement, and yet I don't know if anyone's discovered the real ‘silver bullet’ in terms of how to bring all of the KPI needs and priorities together. How to manage the availability of data that continues to change alongside consumption behavior, and really having that adaptability, is critical. And as we look at the skill sets of those involved in that integrated work, also taking into consideration not just contextual nuance, but also the weighting of the data…From a social perspective, video views on TikTok carry a very different indicator and weight than video views on Facebook…We've sort of fallen prey to see it all in one sort of topical sense. From our perspective, it’s moving more into the ways of working and the talents that we bring to the table.”

To build on that point, we know a lot of teams in general seem to touch the data, they hold the data, they look at the data for you. When it comes to your data strategy, how would you leverage your internal teams?

MR: “From a data strategy standpoint, it's making sure that everyone who needs to touch the data or who could possibly have an impact on how we're going to utilize it and optimize it—be involved in the process from the get-go. Because what happens is, when we work in silos, which happens because we're moving very fast, we don't necessarily have the time to really criticize and understand how other people can use that same piece of data, to answer a different question. So, when we bring those different groups together, we're able to collaborate and really synthesize what we're seeing to unlock real world values, and things that we can do across data sets. Then how one is using it, we can build upon it…Our overall arching goal is to improve competence and public health, and to be able to make sure that there's a knowledgeable and real-world way to disseminate information. Doing that it starts with us internally, providing that transparency.”

GA: “One thing that we found very helpful, was create a data lake. A data lake that can be leveraged across organizations. When you think about corporate affairs, medical, scientific journals, commercial marketing, omnichannel teams, Salesforce, sales teams on the ground—these are all data that should really be correlated all in one place, so that each team can leverage it accordingly. A great example is we actually launched our first product in December. One thing that we did that's a lot of the same concepts that the patient population was engaging with our HCP population was. So, knowing that we have the central repository of data, we were able to kind of hone in on similar content pieces and bring them around and repurpose them for different reasons. Being able to really leverage that concept across the organization, but having that one centralized data lake where other teams kind of can use to repurpose dashboards, particularly for your organization. Because let's face it, the corporate affairs dashboard is going to be different from the omni channel marketing dashboard. So, that one central location, I thought was super helpful.”

What algorithms are you looking at based on those insights, that can help you reframe the content to make sure it resonates with your needs HCPs at your audience?

AR: “The role of an algorithm is to make sure that users who are on a platform, stay there for a really long time. That's good news for advertisers. Platforms aren’t transparent in terms of how they rate their content, they're coded but manipulated by humans…The logic varies by platform, but there were some consistent understandings around content tagging, hash tagging, usage, and engagement. But it really continues to call brand and corporate teams to be really mindful about what they produce, and how to maximize exposure for their brands.”

MR: “Traditionally, we would think about the algorithm, paid media, or different places we look at reach and engagement and we will get a volume of activity, or length on time. But what we're also realizing by incorporating other data sources, like social listening and intelligence, is that there's other things that really impact perception, favorability, and an overall sentiment around the drivers that impact adoption. So, when we look at from a social listening perspective, someone being on a site a site a very long time, may not be good. Maybe they have very negative sentiment about something, they're upset about something, or their activists talking about something. It’s really important to understand the contextual reason. You'll have the reach and engagement, but then to take it a step further, and to use AI and NLP capabilities to really dive deeper into what are those themes impacting? Those conversations. Because positive conversations that would typically be based on the tone of a conversation may be related to vaccine hesitancy, mask mandates, and different things being approved. I think it's really taught us that level that we have to go to to really critically think and understand, because perceptions from a surface level really go much deeper—if we really want to understand how we can change the narrative in this environment.

If you were to hold up your cell phone right now, and you look on your feed on your social media feed—it's very different than the person next to you. So that being said, when we're talking to healthcare professionals, they're humans as well—bombarded with information from different places…We have to understand that because we can create the best content in the world, but if we can't break into that feed, then our message just goes by the wayside.”

How do you tailor your content to the different channels to make sure it gets to the right hands, at the right time?

MR: “If we're, if we're looking to make sure that it gets into the right hands at the right time, it's really making sure that unified piece of having the data in place, is going to be helpful. Because when we have different teams doing different products, and different strategies and campaigns, we want to make sure that they have that information readily available. You have to not only make sure that they have the data from all the different things, but that they understand how to use it. Beyond that, it's also being able to help them understand whether it's reactive or proactive. What they use as their source of truth, or the weighting of it, is really also going to depend on the circumstances. From a campaign and paid strategy, you're going to look more on market research or other different tools, or you're going to look at vaccine claims data or disease state data, etc. Whereas for reactive things, based on brand protection, a lot of times we'll focus on what's being said in social listening or our customer experience data insights coming from surveys. It really depends on what your objective is and how it's weighted based on the source.”

GA: “I think that this goes back to going back to your formative data. What is your HCP population? Where are they digesting it most? You will see that in many cases, when you look at market research, your particular HCP audience might be more active on a search that they are on social. They might be more active on Tik Tok, than they are on Facebook. It's really good to have clear understanding of what those data points are, to give you that example to give you to get you to the decision of choosing which channels you should be on.

I think one other thing that's important is understanding the persona and the behavior of your audience. We recently conducted a persona workshop where we looked at our different HCP audiences across our medicines, and got a clear understanding of the territories that they're in. Where the field agents are doing, some of the NPI numbers that we should be using for any matching that we do for any paid digital strategy, what kind of concepts that we should be creating, to specifically speak to them.”

AR: “Our perspective is we're producing content for a post social world. Even though we're still very much entrenched in this digital/social age, taking into account what AI is going to do in terms of decentralizing the conversation, we're going to lose more and more line of sight on how to drive the ship. It's not ultimately going to be the brand at the center of the story, the more and more we go, the end user is a part of the story. So how do we adapt to that?

I think we're taking a decentralized approach to our content, we're leaning on brevity and pickiness. We're less precious in terms of having to own the entire arc. Now more than ever, whether you're looking at tagging, or you're looking at copy—vernacular is incredibly, incredibly important because of the interface dialogue with ChatGPT. The power of language and the outputs of connectivity around the world are just going to be more important than ever”

Platforms have been a little bit of a hot topic lately. How have you been using research to shape your strategy going forward?

MR: “We look at it from a medical affairs perspective. Platforms and where to find the right individuals to be your trusted messengers, whether it's for a brand or for anything for that matter, you need to have a voice that resonates with your audience. One of the biggest things that we're seeing a shift, pre pandemic we had all these other ways of congregating, but Twitter really was the standing place up until recently where we saw the health care professionals who built a community. It became a place to do three peer reviews on studies, the pace and the acceleration of information sharing—the challenge with all that growth is also who are those trusted messengers? Just because someone's a healthcare professional doesn't necessarily mean that they have the best interest aligned with possibly what we're trying to do. So I think we're seeing some movement, and overall from a healthcare professional perspective, where they're going to hang their hat is still unknown.

Twitter had removed about 10,000-11,000 accounts for mis- and disinformation—they brought them back in early January, because they were money drivers…We're fighting a battle of misinformation where people are profiting from sharing this information. We need to be able to foster a place that healthcare professionals feel comfortable being themselves. Part of that is improving digital literacy around what they can and can't do from an info demic standpoint and making them feel comfortable and validated to participate in these conversations without fear of someone going after their license.”

GA: “One thing that we saw do during the height of the pandemic, was a lot of noise that that started shifting leaving Twitter and going on a lot of these other endemic/non-endemic platforms. A great example is patients were not able to go to their doctor's office. There was a huge void in how they would get information about the medicines and etc. But looking at social media listening tools, we saw that there was a large amount of patients going to various platforms seeking a lot of information specifically about the disease; which gave us some insight on how we should target them with our patient support message.

From the HCP perspective, we saw them leave Twitter, and then go to a lot of endemic platforms to have a one-on-one conversations during medical meetings to exchange data. When you look at the milestones in which you're focusing your marketing efforts on the number one thing that you should think about is, what is the key? What is our key message or corporate message that relates to our audience? But then with that additional research, what channels are they are they active on right now, and what content specifically fits that that particular channel?”

AR: “In my sense of maybe one of the biggest trends happening, a lot of us understood space with networks that network effect, meaning you whether it was Facebook, or even within a medical community on Twitter, just a sense of connectivity around who's in your field…then shifting to new platforms where it's less about who you know or who you're connected with, in that sense, but it's more interest based and discovery based. That changes the fundamental understanding of someone who we understood is ‘A’, but also likes cats and cooking on the weekends, and some really interesting dances. It's that aspect of that same HCP, who may be learning about cooking on the weekends, who doesn't necessarily engage in those conversations, but he's consuming that and is bringing that context, into their conversations on Twitter. I think that's changing how we even understand our data more broadly.

There’s a lot of conversation around the content types on platforms. But the tech trends, in terms of the engagement products that these platforms are offering—YouTube and Instagram are doing a good job in terms of different ways of serving up, for example, YouTube shorts, how to go head-to-head with TikTok, changing the way that we can connect with our end user. You see platforms like Twitter, not really catching up to that. So while we're talking about the conversations that are happening on Twitter and the shifting tides around a post-Elon reality, I think the platforms that will win, will be those that really understand the tech trends, and are able to stay highly, highly competitive, especially with the algorithmic waves we find ourselves in.”

What does the ultimate relationship between marketing, brand, and analytics look like when keeping up with trends, and using this to then create resonating content empathetic to provider needs?

AR: “I’ve made the mistake of running after trends, and then I've missed the moment. And then we've done a thing where we've missed that sound on TikTok. We missed that cultural ‘umph’ that we needed. I think really figuring out how are we going to address trendspotting, how are we going to be able to take standardized content to a degree and sort of optimize it for this moment in time? That needs to be, as we talked about, these diverse skill sets, some team at the table early in the process that can help adapt cross functional organizations that have opportunity.”


Captivate Our Audience by Driving Industry-Leading Content that integrates Real Shifts in Consumption Behavior and User Expectations. Presented at: Pharma USA 2023; Mar. 28-29, 2023. Philadelphia, PA.

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