​Pharma and healthcare brands are three to five years behind in terms of internet marketing, but social media content helps them catch up.

​Marketers who promote consumer-based goods like tech gadgets, apparel or beverages see the internet as a space with limitless marketing possibilities that’s best years are still ahead. Brands that sell more complex products or services may look at the ‘net much differently, as finding the right voice online and keeping within legal boundaries can hinder creativity. Still, new data reveals health companies are working more proactively to include web marketing in their customer outreach.

Take, for example, Cigna’s recent foray into mobile application development and Facebook campaigns. The company recently introduced a mobile download that allows users to replace their heads in self portraits with musical instruments, record a song with the app and then share video content across social networks like Facebook. How is a campaign like this relevant to Cigna’s offerings? The associated Facebook Page reads, “We want to inspire you to be your true self, in all your fantastically, amazingly, remarkably human glory. After all, what’s healthier than that?” For a healthcare provider, this campaign might not compel participants to convert right away, but it goes a long way in starting a conversation and getting people involved with the brand.

Recently, eMarketer’s Christine Bittar spoke with Digitas Health’s Bruce Grant about health and pharma companies using social media marketing to reach new and existing customers. Grant says pharma companies have huge opportunities to leverage social media content as educational tools. “Previously, someone facing a health decision could only talk to [a limited number of people],” Grant notes. “Now, social media brings an unprecedented scale and takes away geographic limitations on the conversation…” This phenomenon allows pharma brands and fellow social influencers to hold online discussions about product offerings, helping people who face treatment decisions pick the methods that make them feel most comfortable or safe.

Despite huge opportunities staring health and pharma companies in the face, Grant says these industries are about three to five years behind the movement, and they need to recognize their delayed adoption of new technologies. “One of the smartest, simplest and safest [ways to offering something of value] from a regulatory point of view is to make website content more shareable,” Grant said.

Content marketing and social media marketing have helped countless brands across industries engage their audiences and support their bottom lines, and it’s time for health and pharma businesses to see the value of such services for the betterment of their customers and their revenue streams.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.