social listeningSocial media listening has become quite a hot topic, but many people still do not fully understand the value it can bring. This is partly because people do not always approach or structure social media listening around the appropriate business questions.

To really understand its value there are two important elements to consider. Firstly there is no point listening for the sake of listening. It is important to have clear business goals and objectives. What are you trying to achieve? What information do you need? Secondly, and just as important, how will you use this information? How will these insights be integrated into your strategy and decision making?

When looking at what to listen for, the first thing many brand teams think of is their brand, and sentiment around their brand. While there may be some value in this, by only concentrating on the brand a huge portion of the discussion, and potential value, is missed. There is often more value in listening and doing research to identify the following elements:

1. Who is involved in the conversation (e.g. around a disease area)

  • Who is taking part in the conversation
  • Who is influencing the conversation
  • Who is listening in
  • Who amongst your competitors is taking part in the conversation

2. Where are conversations happening

  • Which platforms are stakeholders using (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • On which community or group pages are key conversations happening

3. When are conversations happening

  • When are peak times during the day, week, year

4. What are people talking about

  • What are the keywords and key #
  • What are leading topics of discussion
  • What are trending topics
  • What has changed over time

5. Why are conversations happening

  • What events are driving conversations
  • What issues and topics generate high engagement
  • What sentiments are driving the conversation

6. How are people engaging

  • How do they find where conversations are happening
  • How are they accessing the conversations (mobile, desktop, tablet) 

With this information, teams can then make better decisions around how to engage with stakeholders, who the key people to build relationships with are, where to share their messages and what language would most resonate with stakeholders. Some of this information is just as valuable for online content as it is for offline, but very often is only used for online assets and therefore the information value is not optimised.

This information is also very useful to help improve Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).  A big issue with pharma digital assets is ensuring the right people find it online, and understanding what keywords resonate with your stakeholders is valuable information in this area.

Organisations that carry out social media listening, with clear business objectives and goals, and then implement the insights gained from this will be able to develop more impactful messaging and marketing tactics. But as with all things relating to social media, the focus needs to be not on the brand but the customer. It is this focus on the customer that will deliver the real value – both to pharma companies and their customers.


alexandra fulford abstractAbout the Author

Alexandra Fulford is a ZS Business Consultant based in Zurich, Switzerland, and is specialised in digital and social media in the pharmaceutical industry. She has helped clients with their digital and social media strategy and implementation, social media processes, training and global to local implementation.


Topics: social media, social media listening, SEO, Alexandra Fulford