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Published August 22nd 2013

Case Study: the Social Studies Group & Pharmaceutical Research

The pharmaceutical industry has perhaps been a bit ‘late to the party’ when it comes to social media and online engagement, but perhaps with necessary caution. We’ve recently released a new case study about this area.

The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) have been promising guidelines on social media activity within the pharmaceutical industry since 2009, yet still, four years later nothing has been issued, although guidelines have been promised for 2014.

However, this hasn’t stopped pharmaceutical companies acting on or using social media, but has meant they are treading carefully. The medical world are turning up to the party, maybe a little late, but with plenty of friends.

For example, Medstar Health, a $4.5 billion not-for-profit, regional healthcare system based in Columbia, Maryland recently announced it had selected the Brandwatch platform to optimize customer engagement to gain insights across multiple social media channels.

There are many examples of ways the pharmaceutical industry can and are using social media. Recently, The Social Studies Group were tasked with managing the social media efforts of a genetic disorder and the particular drugs a large pharmaceutical company uses to treat the disorder.

The Social Studies Group (SSG) is a market research firm that uses social media data to help companies better understand their customers. Brandwatch recently published a case study on how the SSG worked with a consumer electronic giant on some really clever things using a monitoring tool.

This week we have published a new case study, ‘How the Social Studies Group leverages social analytics to better engage with online communities’ is the second in a series of three case studies Brandwatch has worked on with The SSG, each highlighting a different interesting use of social media analytics.

You can read the full case study here.

Below is a bit more about what you can find in the case study.

The Goal

One of the reasons The SSG used the Brandwatch platform for this project was to identify the real conversations taking place online, rather than rely on traditional research methods like focus groups.

Conversations taking place between patients, medical practitioners and other pharmaceutical companies (competitors) concerning a specific genetic disorder were the target.

The Solution

The volume of data surrounding the genetic disorder was vast, so The SSG used Brandwatch’s advanced Query setup and additional rules for tagging, categorization and author groups to analyze the data, sources and sentiment in real time.

“We used excruciating care to bring in results as cleanly as possible,” said Megan Evans, Analyst at The SSG, “This is where the rubber meets the road when surfacing true insights from social media.”


The Results

Once the data had been refined to identify the authentic conversations surrounding the disorder, it became clear that the majority of the online discussion focused on the personal side of it, with the top three categories being;

  • Parents discussing their children who had the disorder
  • Recommendations about who were the best people to contact about the disorder

  • Notifications and information on fundraising events for the disorder

Having this information enabled the PR firm that had approached the SSG for this particular project, to set an appropriate strategy for engaging with the social community for this disorder.

 “It’s a huge benefit to know where the parents and children are coming from and what they care about most,” said Evans. “It informs the company how to speak to the community in a positive way.”

Wendy Scherer, Managing Partner of SSG, states;

“Pharmaceutical companies that start understanding their social community today will be ready when the FDA and EU-based regulatory agencies provide social media guidelines.”

To read more about how The Social Studies Group used broad and exacting social searches to better engage with online communities read the full case study here.


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