What are the necessary steps to plan an effective, patient-centric clinical trial recruitment campaign? Myriad media options are available, making it easier than ever before to reach targeted patient populations. The use of social media is becoming increasingly trans-demographic, spanning generations and socio-economic strata. “Before understanding how social media provides opportunities for clinical trial recruitment, it’s important to understand why. As a culture, our online behavior has moved from one centered on ‘active intent’ to ‘passive scrolling.’…The numbers support this claim. Approximately 33% of time spent online by U.S. consumers is on social media, which comes to around 2 hours and 15 minutes daily, and Facebook has surpassed Google as the number-one traffic driver to news sources.” (https://www.pharmoutsourcing.com/Featured-Articles/348140-Shining-Light-on-Clinical-Trial-Recruitment-with-Social-Media/) Not only are people spending more time perusing social media – they’re regularly engaging with health related content. The combination of this change in online behavior and interest in medical topics makes utilizing social media the perfect platform for driving enrollment in clinical trials. Here are three quick tips to propel patient recruitment in the digital arena.
- Know Your Channels
Social media outlets provide unprecedented opportunity to scale messaging while staying well within the parameters of a given clinical study budget. But it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of how social media outlets differ from each other. For many years, LinkedIn was viewed as the place to go if you were looking for a new job – and that was it. Since its inception in 2002, LinkedIn has become the king of the B2B networking and thought leadership sharing. Sponsors, CROs and clinical research sites have a strong presence, but patient recruitment is not generally a focus. Facebook and Instagram are strongholds of the B2C world and are solid options for reaching patients, given that are powerhouses for community building in specific arenas. In 2015, Medium.com reported the first clinical trial patient recruited via Snapchat (https://medium.com/@TheRealDanSfera/the-first-ever-clinical-trial-participant-recruited-from-snapchat-4b23cfc0e7ba) but the platform has many less users than Facebook and Instagram. Each of these social media channels has its specific demographics, and what may work on Snapchat (a younger audience) may not work on Facebook (a more mature following). Whatever the platform, follow other relevant accounts, know your key hashtags and spur engagement with compelling content.
- Understand Your Target Population
“Build it and they will come,” has become part of the cultural lexicon, and it is also vital advice when it comes to enrolling patient in clinical trials. What are the demographics of the target patient population? What social media channels do they use? The tables have turned and while Facebook initially was a social media channel for college students, it’s common knowledge that its user base now skews significantly older. Many recruiters are finding great success recruiting for clinical trials via Instagram, particularly through its Stories feature. Building a strategic campaign is easy – when you know the players involved.
- Conduct Social Listening
It’s not eavesdropping…exactly. Social listening is the strategic monitoring of digital media channels to learn about the perceptions and concerns of a given audience about a specific topic or event. By evaluating what’s posted on other accounts that are of interest to your targeted patient population, you can learn a great deal. Social media unites patients from all walks of life, worldwide. Their online comments and conversations provide first-hand, anecdotal information. This data can translate to increased success in patient recruitment by providing insight into how best relate to you targeted patient population.
Our social media gurus have the vision, expertise and experience to create campaigns that build awareness among patient communities and industry stakeholders, driving enrollment.
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