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Lunch & Learn Series | Optimising content for social media

Social video pharmas best content

Lunch & Learn Series | Optimising content for social…

‘Digital marketing’ covers a broad spectrum of ever-evolving disciplines – that’s one reason we love it so much here at Method!

One way we keep up-to-speed with best practice is through internal lunch and learn 🥪 🥙  sessions run by our digital subject matter experts. In this post we’ve packaged up 10 helpful tips and recommendations on the topic of social media content optimisation.

With so much content shared on social media (there was a 60% increase in LinkedIn content last year) every organisation must work hard to get their message to ‘cut through’. When pharmaceutical companies post on social media they are competing (like everyone else) against a plethora of ‘other content’ in their target audience’s newsfeed; from friends, colleagues, interest groups and other organisations.

When we factor in the fact that people typically open their social networking apps to browse instead of search, the need to make content that’s audience centric is key.

With that context, here are 10 tips to help social media content stand out in the crowd:

1. Will the reader care?

It’s so easy to concentrate what we want to deliver ahead of a message the audience is likely to want to consume. Are we saying something that’s adding value to their day?

2. Talking in the imperative

The right tone makes all the difference, especially when coupled with the right trigger words. We find the likes of ‘Exclusive content’​, ‘Expert-led webinars’ and ‘Get the latest insights’ work well.

3. Are we talking about timely topics?

Social media is a fast moving space, which means content with some form of timely reference immediately stands out. An archive blog post can be given a new lease of life with a timely twist in a social media post.

4. The first 125 characters

Cut straight to the point, more like a traditional headline. Then expand with the nitty gritty.​

5. Focus on one message

It’s so tempting to try and squeeze in one more point, one more benefit, one more idea into a social media post. Keep it focused and don’t ask the reader to do/think about more than one thing at a time.

6. Pop supporting details in the visual

Keep the description section (the word!) of the post neat and tight… details such as dates and times can go in the supporting visual​.

7. Never mention product

We all know this, but with pharma brand content we must never reference product in social media content, nor link directly to web pages that include it.

8. Keep it moving

Video gets 10x more in-channel engagement than still images on Twitter, so try and get some animation in the mix when that’s your goal.

9. Pick a format aligned to the post objective

Is the post format you’ve chosen (e.g. a link post, a video card) the best for encouraging the user to do what you want? Always make sure they’re matched.

10. Using the humble hashtag

Particularly for organic content they can aid discoverability and give certain words standout (typically they get bolded). But don’t get spammy; the social networks are downgrading posts that include very broad hashtags (no more #love I’m afraid!)

What are your top tips for creating social media content that cuts through the noise?

Creating new social network accounts; the biggest temptation in…

One of social media’s greatest strengths is conversely something that ties many organisations in knots – the fact it’s free and takes minutes to setup. With such a low barrier to ‘entry’ it’s oh so tempting to create new accounts without due consideration. At best this can result in activity which is surplus to requirements and at worst a series of fragmented communications that can damage brand reputation.

In this blog post I’ll be talking about how we wrestle with this often sensitive topic and work to keep clients’ temptation at bay!

Read more “Creating new social network accounts; the biggest temptation in marketing?”


The art of the hashtag

If you’re after a good example of something ‘ubiquitous’, how about the use of hashtags in brand marketing? These days the humble hashtag is everywhere, but a couple of recent conversations got me thinking that the various ways of using them across different social networks was worthy of a post.

Read more “The art of the hashtag”

How Facebook and Twitter have unlocked a goldmine of…

Towards the end of the summer Facebook and Twitter both lifted the lid on how advertisers are using paid ads on their platforms. In short this means anyone can see all of the active ads that are currently live, including unpublished or ‘dark’ posts which don’t appear directly on advertisers’ Facebook pages. This is big news for anyone involved in social media planning as it offers up new insight into what other brands are doing in this space. I’ve used the fashion industry to see what observations we can make. Read more “How Facebook and Twitter have unlocked a goldmine of insight into your competitors 🔑”

Social video pharmas best content

Social video, pharma’s best and worst content format

Date posted: 25 October 2017

Social video, pharma’s best and worst content format ???

Video has arguably become the dominant format across social media in the last 18 months, with each social network evolving their platform’s capabilities in this space. From Instagram video Stories to Facebook Live and even native LinkedIn video, it’s a hot topic.

Furthermore, and of real interest for brands and publishers, video offers the added bonus of being one of very few digital formats to offer a sense of how much time was spent with it.
Although, that’s not to say measuring it isn’t without its challenges. This post outlines what can make measuring video tricky, and suggests some approaches to simplify.
Video views
Social video: much to measure


Videos are not all created equal

When we talk about “videos” there are so many variations to bear in mind.
First off, a video can of course be of any duration. Comparing a five-second video with a four-minute piece is unlikely to offer a fair comparison.
Secondly, the way video is presented in different social networks shapes how it’s consumed:
  • On Twitter and Facebook, videos must work hard to capture audience attention in rapidly scrolling newsfeed environments
  • Snapchat and Instagram ads pop up between other Stories in a more disruptive style
  • And on the grandfather of video, YouTube, content is typically sought out by the viewer, with episodic content of 10-20 minutes being far more prominent
(There are of course many other formats, and Facebook noticeably is now getting into the longer form space with its Watch tab feature).
Finally, and most importantly when it comes to assessing performance, we must consider different objectives. Was the video trying to get people to click through to a website? Was it to encourage people to tell their friends about it and, by extension, the brand?

There’s plenty to measure

Speaking of measuring performance, there certainly isn’t a lack of metrics. Some of the most prominent include:
  • Views: to understand how many people actually saw a video (see note below)
  • Watch time: total amount of time all viewers spent watching a video
  • Percent completion: what percentage of a video the average person watched
  • Views with sound on: how much the video drew in the viewer and encouraged them to be more immersed in the creative
However, this is where more of the nuance comes in. A couple of key things to consider are:
  • Different social networks define “a view” in different ways, and there’s a whole debate as to what fairly constitutes a view. Should 3 seconds of a video that auto-plays without sound be deemed as a view? (discuss!)
  • Facebook provides some measures for organic video (e.g. 3 sec, 10 sec, 95% completion), but then further metrics are only available for paid videos, which makes it more difficult to compare apples with apples.
But look, a doctor comparing apples!

When things can start to get a little messy

Having all of these options means you can get right into the detail of what happened around an individual video. However, when you start trying to take more of a macro view, the amount of variables can become problematic. We’ve already discussed different objectives, different social networks, paid vs organic, video length and a host of different metrics… and we’ve not even touched on different audience groups!
To have a chance of seeing the wood for the trees and understanding how well different types of video are performing, some sort of barometer or benchmark is required.

Being brutal about variations

There’s no one-size fits all approach, but here are a few ideas on simplifying these variations from a reporting perspective…
  • Keep social networks separate: trying to group performance across different social networks is very problematic, it’s best not to combine them as they are just too different
  • Video length: can you group videos into perhaps two groups – short (under 15 seconds) and long (over 15 seconds)? The first delivering short sharp bursts of information versus longer form “stories”, such as a how-to guide or recipe
  • Video metric: will something like 50% video completion work as a common measure for all videos? If someone gets through half of a short video, they’ve arguably taken on board much of the information it’s trying to convey. And if someone watches at least 50% of a long video, it shows they’ve decided to spend a chunk of time (by social network browsing standards) with your brand
The above might be considered too simplistic. Or you might feel that different completion percentages are appropriate for longer/shorter pieces of content. But hopefully what it can do is free you from drowning in data by trying to assess too many variables… and subsequently extracting no insights.

Finding patterns

Beyond the above approach, you’ll of course want to run more in-depth analysis around the way different video styles are performing (e.g. person speaking to camera, vs hands in shot demonstration). By filtering on the style of video content first and then analysing performance across your chosen metrics should help you extract some actionable insights.

A couple of further considerations

  • Assess the ratio of paid to organic video views… this can be an effective way of further illustrating the impact of different creative
  • Consider different types of media-buy for video against different “viewability standards”, such as a 2 second view, completed views or just impressions. It’s certainly one to watch as social networks and media agencies grapple with it

In summary

  • Video is great because you get a sense of time spent with the brand
  • However, there are many nuances around measuring it
  • The most important thing is having a clear understanding of the video’s objective
  • Simplify your reporting and analysis to spot patterns
Is video critical to your content marketing plan? Which metrics do you use for measuring it?
Custom Audiences: Pharma’s Social

Custom Audiences: Pharma’s Social Saviour?

Date posted: 29 September 2017

Custom Audiences: Pharma’s Social Saviour?

We know the pharma industry can present robust compliancy challenges for marketers attempting to reach audiences online. Fortunately, in their efforts to monetise themselves through their ‘custom audience’ features, the social networks have given the industry a useful means of addressing this. This post explores how these custom audience features have developed, what they include and best practice advice for pharmaceutical marketers.

Facebook Custom Audiences
Facebook’s Custom Audiences

Burden of Proof: Social Media Marketing and Return on Investment (ROI)

In the late noughties, Facebook and the other major social networks were aware they needed to show advertisers clearer ROI in order to demonstrate their worth as a serious alternative to established media. As the new kid on the block, there was arguably greater scrutiny and ‘burden of proof’ to demonstrate this than with traditional channels.

To address the challenge, Facebook launched ‘Custom Audiences’ in 2012. Twitter followed suit with ‘Tailored Audiences’ (in 2013) and LinkedIn with ‘Matched Audiences’ (2017). Each of these effectively offers the same thing.

Custom Audiences 101

The theory behind Custom/Tailored/Matched Audiences is very simple – enable organisations to target social network publishing to customer specific segments. This is done by matching the profile an organisation holds about a customer with that customer’s social media profile(s) using data points, such as email address or mobile phone number.

The organisation can dice and slice its customer base as it wants (e.g. by specialty, seniority) and share great content – relevant, timely, actionable – to them.

Clearly this raises a number of data protection points, which the social networks had to address. These include processes to stop the social networks from actually seeing which customers are being targeted and requiring a minimum size of audience to target.

Significantly, these products have helped social networks move from being ‘just another channel for reaching people’ to a starting point for sophisticated customer relationship management.

Pharma Industry Compliance

Clause 9.9 of the 2016 Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Code states, ‘The telephone, text messages, email, telemessages, facsimile, automated calling systems and other electronic data communications must not be used for promotional purposes, except with the prior permission of the recipient.’

Consequently, you will need the explicit consent of your target audience to serve them content using Custom Audiences (regardless of industry this is the right approach to take). Ultimately this means if you’ve established a diligent process for using Custom Audiences, you’ll have pharma compliance-proofed it. Handy.

The way in which you actually capture those permissions has been discussed in our content marketing article, and we’ll discuss it again in future posts. But in terms of persuading people that it’s worth their while to opt-in… well, a promise of contextual, timely and useful content is a good place to start! 

These Custom Audience products have evolved significantly over time, becoming much more straightforward to use than when they first launched. However, regardless of how simple they are to use, unless you have some interesting customer data upon which to create an audience segment, you’ll be limited to what you can do.

Let’s assume you’ve collated a list of healthcare professionals (HCPs) who’ve all opted in. Now, what else do you know about this group that you can use to segment and serve up different content? This presents an interesting question for the point of data collection. What additional information will you ask for? What’s the minimum viable amount while still having enough to make meaningful segmentation? Like most things, it’s important to have some clear objectives before you begin.

Telling a Better Story

None of this is to say that using targeted audiences is all plain sailing. The matching process will never be close to 100%. In fact, depending on how much information you’ve collated about your audience, it might be significantly less. To be clear, that doesn’t mean you might reach the wrong people, just that you won’t reach all of the people that you’d like to.

What I really like about using targeted audiences is the ability to tell each audience a better story. By building a picture of both who they are and what they do (i.e. the content they respond to and engage with most) you can get smart with what you tell them next, hopefully building a stronger relationship. We’ll also talk more about website retargeting in future posts.

Which Networks to Use?

Now that this audience targeting feature is available across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, pharmaceutical marketers have many options. In targeting HCPs, Twitter and LinkedIn are pharma’s preferred networks; however, given the scale and ubiquity of Facebook it shouldn’t be ruled out. Of course, every sub-section of an industry and every audience is different, so a test-and-optimise approach is advised. Start small; identify what works and what doesn’t; do less of what doesn’t and more of what does.

LinkedIn custom audiences
LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences Service

A Final Thought on Diluting Brand Value

Much of this post has been about the benefit of reaching target audiences, in the channels they’re using, with contextually relevant and valuable content. Content that addresses the needs of the audience first and supports business/brand goals second.

This is important, because when I see companies, or brands publishing irrelevant, unhelpful, self-serving content, they’re in danger of brand dilution. By this I mean, each piece of poorly targeted/frequently repeated/boring content erodes audience interest/trust/consideration for that brand (even if just a tiny amount).

Respect your audience’s time, inbox and feeds. Offer them great content that’s relevant, timely and actionable. Put their needs first. That’s how you build relationships, earn their trust, and enhance your brand value.


Have you considered using these types of targeting options through social media?

Do you see content in your own newsfeed from a brand you shop with that feels hyper-relevant?    

Please share your experiences and comments below.