We recently went through that ASCO time of year again. In terms of social media this is a big event and ASCO was one of the early adopters in terms of twitter and conference #. I have been preaching for years about the value of using social media at conferences but it is only now really becoming more mainstream within the pharma and pharma conference industry.
Social media around these conferences has value in a number ways. Firstly there is increased in reach and impact of messages and information from the content. We are approaching a time when there will be more virtual attendees than physical attendees, in part driven by cost cutting measures and restrictions on paying for physicians to attend, but also driven by the increased use of digital channels to extend the conferences virtually.
Doctors who in the past were too junior or not perceived as a “key” stakeholder would not have been able to attend congress and would have to wait for the publication of reports from the conference. Now they can have real-time access to what is being presented and the latest news being presented many miles away at a conference like ASCO.
The other aspect of extended reach is to a whole stakeholder group who would, for the most part, not traditionally been able to attend – patients and caregivers. Patients are becoming increasingly engaged and active in their own healthcare, and going online to find information and following disease related #. Increasingly Patient KOI are actively following conferences and sharing the most pertinent information with their followers. This way, patients are able to find out the latest news and information that related to their disease – information that they would not traditionally have had access to outside of their doctor’s office.
A further benefit that social media at conference brings is the possibility to gain insights, identify KOI and build relationships with these KOI. Conferences are a great opportunity to identify KOI or KOL who are active on social media and to start engaging with them. Social media can be used to reach out to them directly if they are at the conference and ask for a meeting, for example. Or, alternatively, identify them at congress and then follow up later online.
Despite all these benefits many pharma companies are still not fully optimising this opportunity. Some are starting to be very active at conference but then do not optimise the on-going opportunities that can come out of these events. Fortunately though each year I am seeing more and more activity around these conference so there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.