As communicators in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, we operate in a tightly regulated field. Convincing our clients to engage in creative digital storytelling that makes the most of the various social media platforms available – while still being compliant with the regulations that govern our industry – can be challenging.

That’s why I was excited to attend the Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF), a two-day event that brings together marketing, digital and content leads from leading global brands to discuss the latest trends and development in the space. In Edelman’s Health team, we’re already working with our clients to deliver innovative digital projects within the pharmaceutical space and I was keen to be further inspired by the insights from speakers at DMWF.

Here are my top takeaways from the event:

  • ‘Pay to play’ debate continues 
    The debate between organic versus paid promotion of social media content still wages on. Some speakers made the case that paid promotion of all social content is needed to ensure it’s actually seen in newsfeeds, and that this is feasible even on a limited budget. Others argued that an integrated approach of both organic and paid content was best, with high-performing organic posts serving as indicators for which posts should be boosted with paid promotion in the future. The value of organic content is good news for those of us with pharmaceutical clients still set against any paid promotion – however it’s clear that the overall trend will shift towards paid winning out in the future.
  • Mobile optimization is key
    Several speakers noted the importance of ensuring content is fully optimized for mobile, as most audiences interact with content via their mobile phones in the first instance, and the distance we “scroll” every day is increasing (on average, 30 metres a day!). While the content we develop for our clients sometimes needs to be longer than ideal for compliance reasons, it was clear that we need to still ensure it is optimised for mobile view, whether through a review process that builds in time for mobile device testing, intelligent graphic design, or through the use of fast-loading AMP web formats.
  • Build trust through employee spokespeople
    In her talk, Microsoft UK’s Digital Lead Catherine Wignall cited the Edelman Trust Barometer as evidence of how audiences are becoming more selective and critical in the types of content that they trust – with more people trusting “a person like yourself” or a company’s employees as credible sources of information than experts or CEOs. Making full use of their employees’ voices, through posting content on their LinkedIn pages or on company blogs, is a great opportunity for healthcare companies to diversify their digital communications and further build trust amongst target audiences.
  • Don’t be afraid of trying something new
    In the pharmaceutical industry, sometimes we have to work a little bit harder to convince our clients to use social media as a channel for their communications. What really rang through at the conference was the importance of experimentation, and of not letting a client’s fear of “what could happen” prevent you from coming up with creative and innovative campaign ideas. Panel speakers emphasized the importance of including a strong rationale for any campaign you’re proposing, and highlighting the business benefit it could have. Grad Conn, Chief Experience and Marketing Officer at Sprinklr also made the point that as there are globally 3.4 billion social network users, if clients say that their target audience aren’t on social media – they’re probably wrong!

Sophie Reid is an account manager, Health in London.