While social media may not leap out as a leading method for medical device firms to market products, the winds of change are revealing its valuable to do so. Social media is already a great method to promote direct-to-consumer medical products like supplements and wearable devices, but it’s becoming increasingly valuable in reaching and targeting physicians and healthcare professionals to make business-to-business sales.
A recent study revealed that almost 90% of physicians use at least one social network or social media platform for personal use, while more than 65% use at least one for professional purposes. These figures are likely to continue climbing as younger physicians continue to join the healthcare workforce. This provides a wide landscape for medical device marketers to target. What’s more, lacking a social media presence in today’s digital age can damage credibility – it may give pause to those searching for your company to type your company’s name into the search bar only for it the search to come up empty. Additionally, having a presence on multiple social media platforms can bolster search engine optimization, or SEO, by providing more results for major search engines to display.
The rise of social media messaging and independent messaging apps is another great reason to pursue social. According to a 2018 study, the top five messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat and WhatsApp) have a monthly usership of 5 billion. Firms that make themselves available on social messaging apps can greatly extend their availability to prospects and potential buyers. Third party sites like Chatfuel can also help companies design in-app chatbots that will respond to a variety of customer questions using artificial intelligence. This means if someone halfway around the globe messages a company’s Facebook with a question at 2 a.m. local time, they will still receive an instant answer.
In addition to opening lines of communication, social media can be a great way for medical device companies to manage their reputation, online and beyond. This can be anything from responding to customer questions, criticisms or issues to preventing liability issues. For example, MedTech Momentum Founder Guillaume Viallaneix, writes, “if a device company hosts a forum and a consumer promotes off-label use of the device, the company [can] immediately post a disclaimer explaining that the company does not promote off-label use.”
Medical device companies should familiarize themselves with the existing social media landscape to determine which platforms are best suited to their products and target market, while keeping up with new apps, platforms and developments. The viability of social media for medical device marketing offers companies a promising and inexpensive approach.