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Revisiting Instagram as a pharma marketing tool

20/10/16 07:30
COUCH Medcomms



Believe it or not – Instagram, is currently one of the most effective pharma marketing tools around.

And with its new story feature, pharma Instagram users can benefit from content which is visually appealing. Because let’s face it, building relationships is not just about impressing them with the sort of content which displays expertise in a given field, but also (and often more importantly) about displaying a ‘human side’ they can relate to.

The tired “a picture paints a thousand words” maxim is never more relevant when it comes to expressing this human side, simply because images appeal to emotions when words either fail, or take longer, to hit the mark. Yet deciding to use visuals is only the beginning when it comes to marketing, and from that point you can either master the art or fall flat on your face in a spectacular way.

The nitty gritty – done for you

Fortunately the Instagram story feature does all the hard work for you, so the only input needed is simply to upload the pics or a short video. From there, the ‘story’ will be posted on your page and – more importantly – on the news feeds of your users.

The relevance to users is assessed by algorithms which track their interests, so your stories will appear on their walls in order of this relevance – and therefore there’s no need for you to re-post content and therefore run the risk of bombarding your followers and turning them off. More importantly, the content itself is as quick and easy to read as it is to upload, so viewers will be infinitely more likely to engage with it.

‘Tasters’ of live events

If anything on social media has the wish you were here factor, it certainly isn’t adverts or even updates with the words “wish you were here”. Pictures (or even live videos) of an event come first by a mile on that front.

So the pharma Instagram user has a prime opportunity to promote medical conferences, patient meetings, community get-togethers and anything which aims to draw crowds – and without the need to conjure up persuasive words to do so. Yet best of all, such stories will not bore followers (even if they don’t attend the events), and so users are more likely to view – and engage in – future content when it comes their way. The knock-on effect is that your brand becomes more known, and then liked, and then eventually trusted. Gradually, your intended customers will be happy to take time out to hear what you have to say, and trust your products and treatments also.

The new ‘Comment Moderation’ feature

With any platform there’s always a risk of unwanted comments, and sadly this risk increases with popularity. Moderating a well-visited site, therefore, can often be a full-time job. 

The good news? Instagram offers a new Comment Moderation tool which does the job for you. The even better news? It’s much more effective than Facebook’s moderation system.

The latter uses a ‘hide’ tool which removes comments, but – if you didn’t know already – these comments don’t disappear to everybody. Followers are still able to see the author’s comment (forever), and that could potentially be a large number of people. Instagram’s tool, however, blocks the comment to everyone but the author.

In terms of which content is blocked, the user chooses a list of words (of up to 10,000 characters in total), and comments containing these words will be flagged by the program. Then, the user can choose to accept or reject the comment, with no-one seeing it besides themselves and the author. Instagram also offers suggestions as to what these words could be, but with the added bonus that the list can be altered at any time.

Patients, HCPs and doctors need to know that pharma brands are reliable. Sadly, trust can be undermined with one or two ‘troll’ comments which can be easily missed by human eyes. For pharma Instagram users, Comment Moderation is a particularly useful tool (and may even prove to be essential) for upholding a reputation for expertise and professionalism.   

Analytics to track performance

Many marketers make a simple but huge mistake in their campaigns: they fail to track results, and so fail to see what does and doesn’t work.

Instagram has that covered too, however. Their analytics make it possible for users to see not only how many people have seen each story (and each pic or video within in), but also who these people are. For pharma Instagram users, this means it is possible to see which stories are popular (or otherwise) with different age groups, social classes, genders, geographical regions and so-on. If the content is understood properly, it can then be either addressed to particular groups or, if need be, altered completely in order to attract certain people. 

The most important aspect of Instagram stories, however, is simply that it is easy – yet effective – for both marketers and customers. It allows for the promotion of both brands and the content you provide, but in the guise of ‘leisurely pursuits’ rather than ‘educational stuff’. Above all, it’s up-to-date in the digital age – without needing to be merely playful – and in this way really is among the best marketing tools in existence.


Multichannel Marketing Pharma



Topics: Storytelling, Multichannel Marketing, Content Marketing, HCP engagement

COUCH Medcomms

At the risk of sounding too pretentious, at COUCH we consider ourselves storytellers first and foremost. And we are passionate in championing this approach to medical communications.

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