The Benefits of Engaging with Patients on Social Media
As the use of social media platforms continues to grow rapidly throughout the world, organizations from all industries are being presented with clear opportunities for engagement and communication with their specific audiences. This trend in enhanced outreach is no different for clinical research.
In a time when 80% of the population is willing to participate in a clinical trial, the fact remains that 50% of the population is not even aware that clinical trials are occurring. As industry professionals, there are steps we must take to educate and build awareness of clinical trial participation. Social media offers several opportunities to reach patient populations and is a critical initiative in engaging with patients for clinical trials. As professionals in the clinical research industry, we have an obligation to raise awareness for clinical trials, to help end stigmas about research, and to address patient concerns. With social media assuming such an active and constant role in our lives, these powerful channels can bridge the communication gap and educate the general population—patients—about the importance and benefits of clinical research.
The majority of patients are active on their social networks on a daily basis.
- 68% of all U.S. adults are on Facebook;
- 88% of people aged 18 to 29 use social media;
- 78% of people aged 30 to 49 use social media;
- And, surprisingly, 64% of people aged 50 to 64 use social media.
- Altogether, 77% of the U.S. population has a presence/profile on social media.
These statistics are helpful to know. You can use them to inform which avenues you choose to implement to reach patient populations for specific studies. For example, if you are recruiting for an acne study, you are most likely trying to reach a young patient population. In this case, you would definitely want to rely heavily on social media as part of your advertising campaign, since close to 90% of the people you are trying to engage with will be accessible. Conversely, if you are recruiting for an Alzheimer’s study, which would typically look for a patient population comprised of older adults, you should still advertise on social media, but not rely exclusively on it, since you would be missing out on about one third of your target audience. You can take these statistics further by looking into the online habits of certain age groups and demographics. Who spends the most time online during the day? Target that audience during a midday time frame. Who spends an overwhelming amount of their total time online during the weekends? Consider being conservative with the time you spend trying to reach them Monday through Friday.
Naturally, patients want to know more about a given trial before committing to something that could potentially impact their lives and health. Delivering these answers promptly and transparently online could be the deciding factor in whether or not a patient will be willing to fill out and submit their information to you. With this in mind, it is a recommended best practice to regularly monitor comments, questions or any other form of engagement from patients on the company’s social media pages.
Engaging with patients through social media creates a more inviting and personal environment for your organization. This level of communication offers patients a more friendly and educational experience. Consistent outreach that is easy-to-read, understandable, and not intimidating increases credibility and interest, and allows for greater success on behalf of the site. If you are routinely engaging with patients on your social media page, following up with them on participation needs, and acting as a genuine stakeholder to their health and concerns, you will position your research program for future success.
Would you like to learn more about engaging with patients on social media? Read our white paper!
Post by Nicole DeMarco -
Nicole is a positive, web-savvy social media guru. She serves as a Marketing Project Coordinator on the Engage team where she manages marketing and advertising campaigns for clients. “The most rewarding part of my job is the continuous learning cycle and the genuine people who work here!”