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Developments in Digital Media

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by David Hunt, Digital Director - Creative Lynx Ltd

It seems everyone’s head these days is filled with Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, iPhone apps or the recently launched iPad, and what it all means to our existence. (Will we, for example, have swapped clicking on a keyboard for swooshing on a screen by next year – does it matter?) We work for Creative Lynx; a leading digital healthcare agency based in the UK and Switzerland. As the digital landscape continues to shift, what we believe in as an agency has changed very little: we want our clients’ services and products to be noticed and their messages heard, we want to add value and achieve measurable results, and the best means we know of doing this is with great ideas.

Emerging technologies, social media and digital engagement have begun to monopolise our attention, and without changing the idea’s impact, they do change the way we experience brand messages. The current talk in the industry around marketing now being an ‘immersive’ experience and the need to ‘put the consumers at the heart’ reflect a desire by our clients to be where their consumers are.

Knowing what to say and where to say it may subsequently seem a bewildering task. As an experienced team our skills can help guide our clients through the pitfalls, whilst suggesting tools which can bring about remarkable opportunities. ‘Health 2.0’ for instance is all about collaboration and participation and a good example of what we’re talking about. Doctors, scientists, and patients use a variety of tools, (blogs, podcasts, tagging, search, wikis etc,) to create an ongoing discussion where illnesses are considered, treatments discussed and health education promoted. (More than half of ‘Health 2.0’ users discuss information they found on online with their physician.*) Adding to the content that’s already there our pharma clients supply data findings and respond to discussion - their responsiveness seen by all.

A key requirement is that information is entered onto these sites on a regular basis; it’s clear that fast exchange of information makes for greater relevance. Regular contact between company and consumer creates a relationship online that can be built over time. The tools themselves are NOT important, what matters is shared experience and trust. An openness and honesty of exchange characterises web relationships and neither the company nor the consumer is an insider - they both are. It is interesting to see how these ideas have translated to social media sites and what benefits have been gained. A recent example is the ‘What colour is my bra?’ viral message which highlighted breast cancer. A series of messages gave away a supposed secret – the color of a woman’s bra – white, rose, blue with bows, etc, and was put on Facebook. The unexplained mention of colour on the women’s pages stirred curiosity, and eventually created attention from the media. Whoever started the campaign is unknown but what they did was take a single voice and amplify it, in this case to the benefit of organizations that raise funds for breast cancer research. Controversy immediately surrounded the campaign, (rarely a bad thing in marketing terms), and arguments were given online whether it was sexualizing the illness and whether there was any benefit to be gained when no informational links to breast cancer sites were given. We hold a sneaking suspicion that whatever the pros and cons of the approach huge numbers of women were reminded of the advisability of self-examination.

The statistics of people who find information about their illnesses through online communities continues to grow sharply. (*74% of European physicians get medical information from blogs, message boards, and online social networks. One third of all physicians use social media sources weekly or more often.) Companies can enhance content that is already present with their own website reviews, information and findings. Doctors are now signing up to password-protected professional blogs in greater numbers than ever before, an area that pharmaceutical companies have been hesitant to embrace. Although the technologies have been around for years, pharmaceutical companies are only recently making use of fine-tuned segmentation and highly customized programmes. Some of these integrate both the patient’s physician and caregiver network to create a programme off-puttingly called ‘Social Compliance’. In fact, it is one of the best uses of social media that has happened in recent years. Patients are offered real-time medical advice and given support - particularly from those who are most likely to influence their decision to continue with treatment, thereby reducing non-compliance and failed therapies.

We hope we’ve captured your interest in just a few of the exciting developments in digital media. If the iPad, as widely predicted, delivers on its potential we’re sure many more marketing opportunities will run off the back of it. Consumers are spending significantly larger amounts of time online each year and empowering themselves to make informed decisions; doctors are on sites exchanging data, opinions and recommendations to the benefit of healthcare. Last and most important for us, clients are able to contribute and create relationships online as part of an ongoing dialogue.
*Meridith Ressi VP Research

Article taken from The Digital Pharma Guide, Click here for the e:edition

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