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Digital Healthcare Marketing

Listening To HCPs’ Roller Coaster Conversations On Social Media

By 18 June 2020April 18th, 2023No Comments
Digital Marketing Playbook for Pharma

Last year, the conversations of doctors on digital platforms saw a drastic change, both in terms of nature and volume. As healthcare marketers, the success of your digital communication depends on how deeply you assess such conversations, and on what parameters you assess them.

In other words, you should be well versed in¬† ‚ÄúSocial Listening‚ÄĚ i.e., listening to social media conversations.

You will find a lot many articles on social listening for healthcare brands and its potential to:

(i) Monitor the underlying concerns of the market.

(ii) Strategize digital communication and address the sentiments of HCPs & Patients.

But, in this write-up, we are taking a different approach, showing how the nature and volume of social media conversations around a subject change in a few months, and how healthcare companies can alter their digital communication accordingly. No prizes for guessing the subject here.

So, what can pharma marketers learn from the graph of COVID-19-related online conversations? Let’s go through a few social listening reports to understand this graph better.

As per a report by IQVIA, the conversations on COVID-19 increased exponentially across the globe. You can see in the graph below; the number of online conversations peaked during March (511 million posts) and gradually dipped to 146 million posts during May. In terms of volume, the top five nations have been the US, Japan, India, the UK, and Brazil, with Twitter being the busiest platform, facilitating 87 percent of the conversations.

graph 1

Evidently, social media fatigue seems to be setting in, but till March, it was an entirely different story. From a strategic point of view, it is a high-value insight for pharmaceutical companies.

From January to March, a Social Listening study was done by CMI/Compas; according to which HCPs logged in to social media accounts, joined clinical conversations, and provided insights more actively than ever before. In fact, during this period, the conversations on COVID-19 increased by 1000% among HCPs, which was a huge surge indeed.

If I talk about the Docplexus platform, 7431 doctors joined in March, which was 1547% more than the previous month.

Even our articles (posted in March) related to COVID-19 fared much better than the regular ones (in terms of reach, comments, and likes), as you can see in the pictures below, respectively.


Docplexus COVID-19



But post-March, the nature of conversations has changed for both doctors and patients. The analysis done by Evoke Kyne can be of great help in understanding this shift. As per their analysis, COVID-19 conversations have seen a drop of 65% globally. People are relinquishing the feeling of fear and despair, and they are moving towards anticipation and hope. The feel-good stories and medical discussions on healthcare issues besides COVID-19 are gaining momentum on social media all over again, and people are readily consuming them.

Even gloomy and apprehensive hashtags such as #CoronavirusLockdown are being replaced with optimistic hashtags such as #HopeFromHome, #StaySafe, etc.

Based on the above analysis, the following are a few takeaways for pharma:

i) Sentiments of people can change drastically on social media in a few months.

ii) HCPs are getting well-versed with social platforms, and COVID-19 has expedited this welcoming trend.

iii) Twitter should be tapped more to understand the nature of conversations (even HCPs and patients are quite active there).

iv) Paying attention to hashtags is integral to Social Listening.

How can Pharma leverage ‚ÄėSocial Listening‚Äô Reports and Analysis?

As social listening reports are making the ‚Äėshift in priorities‚Äô evident, you can proactively alter your digital communication, for instance, you can chalk out new social media plans and address healthcare issues apart from COVID-19. ¬†You can arm your sales team with trending content so that their pitch remains fresh and appealing. The last thing you want is a sales team that is out of tune with current demands.

It’s about getting back to what you were doing before COVID-19, not all of a sudden, but gradually. Earlier, you might be using banners or dedicated sections on your homepage to outline your take on the COVID-19 outbreak, but now you can afford to change your narrative. For example, you can talk about the novel coronavirus from the standpoint of science & innovation, and not from the standpoint of crisis, for science & innovation is a reflection of hope and possibilities.

As Social Listening helps you determine popular questions that patients are asking themselves, you can take that knowledge and update your homepage accordingly, making your website more relevant and digestible. Also, as patients suffering from chronic ailments may have felt left out in recent months, you may have to reach out to them more aggressively than before.

For example, you can share e-Patient Education Kits with HCPs, which they can further share with their patients for educational purposes.

¬†Analyzing ‚ÄúBrand Mentions‚ÄĚ during this period

In terms of ‚Äúsocial media mentions,‚ÄĚ the top five companies include Abbott, Gilead, Roche, Bayer, and Sanofi. Other top companies include Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, and Cardinal Health. These brands are trending for a reason. So, what have these brands talked about in the last five months?

Here again, Social Listening has the answer.

As per IQVIA, around 35 drugs (potential treatments for COVID-19) are being discussed globally on social media. Hydroxychloroquine has been the most discussed drug with 4.4 million mentions in the past few months, followed by Chloroquine, and Remdesivir. The most trending pharma companies (as mentioned above) have centered their communications around these 35 drugs.

graoh 2Besides drugs, a considerable number of social conversations have been centered around palliative medicines, supplements, and sanitization products. Cough & Cold medications like Paracetamol and Ibuprofen have garnered 5,00,000 posts each. On the other hand, Masks and Sanitizers have garnered 17.5 million and 3.5 million mentions, respectively.

graph 3Social listening and patient advocacy groups

Patient advocacy groups play an active role in bringing patients’ perspectives into an investigative or clinical environment. Such groups have a prominent social media presence with many having their own websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and even discussion boards. In particular, patient advocacy groups associated with chronic diseases tend to have online members who are highly active.

Therefore, listening to their conversations on social media may help you understand the sentiments of people around COVID-19 or any disease for that matter. Are they fearful or hopeful? Are they handling the situation with a scientific temperament or not? And so on.


Social Listening is not just a technique to increase your brand mentions but to understand the needs of the market, advance your research (drug or vaccine development), mobilize healthcare resources, and promote healthcare initiatives. So, it is a holistic technique and you must approach it accordingly.

Being an online community of 3,80,000 doctors, we too provide Sentiment Analysis reports to our industry partners and help them tailor their content to the needs of medical professionals via Infocenter and Webinars on our platform. If you want to know more, reach out to us at

Docplexus – Pharma’s Trusted Marketing Partner

Docplexus is one of the world’s largest & fastest-growing networks of verified doctors & a trusted marketing partner of pharma, medical devices, diagnostics & nutraceutical companies. We empower our industry partners to meaningfully engage with the medical community through data-driven, evidence-based marketing & brand management solutions such as infocenter (branded microsite), mindset analysis, KOL webinars, sponsored medical updates, online CMEs & more.

Team Docplexus

Author Team Docplexus

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