Should Biotechs Blog and Tweet More?

On March 21, 2011, I attended the BioConference Live interactive online-only life science conference organized by LabRoots.  LabRoots is an online social network for the science and healthcare community.  Invited to attend the conference were research scientists, clinicians, doctors, and other professionals.

One of the several presentations I attended was a panel discussion titled, “Social Media and Life Sciences: Why should we care about social media (and what you need to know to get started.”  I found it to be very interesting and informative.  Moderator Tina Baumgartner at Accella Group began with a number of questions that she hoped the panel would answer.  Such as, “does social media hold any promises for biotech and life sciences companies, should they engage in social media and what outcome should they expect?”

The panel included Pamela Lund at PL Interacive and Michael Wu at Lithium.  According to Lund, “companies who blog generate 67 percent more monthly leads than companies that do not.  Those that blog and tweet are getting more eyeballs than those that just blog.  Thus causing a multiplier effect for those who blog and tweet.  Biotech companies said that Linkedin was the greatest generator of leads and customers than Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.”

Some other important advantages for companies that use social media include: instant feedback, the ability to respond to colleagues and customers real-time, and addressing negative perceptions, said Lund.  She also offered important things to think about when getting started in social media.  Some of these include finding out who your target audience is, what you should expect from social media, and what would you consider success once you’re involved in social media.  She also discussed the misconceptions and pitfalls of social media such as “social media is not free and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.”

Michael Wu discussed the importance of influencers in social media and how to find them.  These influencers can cause a change in thought or behavior said Wu.  They can move the consumer down the “purchase funnel” and change their mind so much that they purchase.  Therefore, influencers can be a PR nightmare for companies or they can be a benefit for companies.  According to Wu, “influencers need to have domain credibility, high bandwidth, content relevance, timing relevance, and channel alignment.”

Social media can help scientists gain influence through all those methods previously mentioned.  Michael also mentioned some tools to help scientists gain influence and they include: free social media monitoring with Google Alert, free social reference management with Mendeley, and free relationship maintenance on LinkedIn.

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