In my last post I mentioned that I run social media training.  As part of this I look at how a pharma brands could use social media.  The big bucket areas are:

  • Gathering insights
  • Driving traffic
  • Sharing information
  • Engaging

I have heard people say that the main goal of social media should be driving traffic to a website.  I totally disagree.  Whilst social media can be a great way to drive traffic it only covers part of its functionality.    It also does not take into account people’s behaviour on social media. The majority of people on social media do not click on links. This was backed up by a study run by Columbia University which found 59% of links being shared on social media have never actually been clicked.  Science Post famously published a block of “lorem ipsum” text under a frightening headline: “Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting.”  Nearly 200k people have shared this post.

Think of your own behaviour on social media.  How often do you pop on to just quickly have a scroll?  You may not want to click through to something else at that point in time.  How often have you shared a post without actually fully reading it?  I know I have done this.

I argue that there needs to be a mix of what I call “on-platform” content and traffic driving content.  We often talk about serving up content to people where they are (as opposed to pushing it at them on the channels we are using).  The same goes for social media content.  If people are on social media then do not make them go elsewhere to digest the content.  Serve up content on-platform for those that are scrolling or do not want to click away from their current location.  Provide them with bite-sized, digestible content on social media.

GSK social media post

That is not to say do not use it for driving traffic.  In fact if you have a website you absolutely should be using social media for driving traffic!  However this should not be your sole purpose or type of content.  If you are trying to do disease awareness, for example, you should have a steady stream of on-platform content to make the most of those scrolling  eyeballs.  Also whilst some people do share content without having read it, some prefer to only share what they have read.  This means that they may feel more comfortable sharing on-platform content than a link to content they have not yet looked at.

Of course you can also get the best of both worlds by sharing a bite-sized or teaser post, which conveys your key point, but also with a link to more information.

Novartis social media post

The other point is also to carefully consider where you are driving traffic too.  If you do not have a good place to send people to then best off just sticking to on-platform content.  Traffic driving is an important activity if you have a website but engaging with your audience where they are is equally important.  So next time you use social media and you scroll past a link, stop and consider your behaviour.  Then remember this post … and share the link to it!


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