Medical congresses are often associated with doctors and data that only people with medical degrees can understand. As healthcare public relations professionals, our main goal is to make that information more accessible to the public. As such, the media space around these meetings is increasingly crowded year after year, with pharma companies fighting for share of voice to announce their latest data.
Health is one of the most searched about topics online, and patients with ailments ranging from the common cold to cancer flock to websites such as WebMD and health blogs to try to get the most up to date information. So it’s no surprise then that companies can succeed in differentiating themselves from the pack at medical congresses through social and digital media.
In the past, information from these meetings didn’t extend far beyond the attendees. Now companies have started to establish a voice on channels such as Twitter and Facebook, and are developing content for their own conference-specific sites to extend their reach to not just doctors, but patients and advocates. Medical societies, such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Diabetes Association, are using conference hashtags on Twitter so the latest content can be easily searched and shared by everyone.
Companies used to be able to differentiate themselves at medical meetings by promoting data and dipping their toe in social media waters. Now, to be considered an authentic player in the space, companies should consider:
- Creating dynamic content that is both relevant to conference attendees but also engages a wider audience; involve internal and external leaders to create a broader story
- Creating a conference-specific platform; whether in the form of a microsite or blog, it offers companies the opportunity to act as a publisher
- Paid promotion on Twitter; the extra push can help companies stand out in the midst of a crowded space
- #engaging; Nearly every medical meeting these days has an official hashtag. This hashtag has gone from a novelty on the fringes of the conference to an essential tool in disseminating news and participating in the conversation. Companies would be wise to find ways to contribute to the official conference hashtag through two-way dialogue and adding valuable content.
As the digital and social spaces evolve, these congresses will become increasingly important in establishing companies as leaders within the space, so having a sound strategy in place will be critical to obtaining share of voice.