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29.05.2019 | Health Strategy

5 Steps To Make the Most Out Of Congress

By Lara Meyer

A tactical look at how to leverage social media as part of your congress strategy.

Medical congress meetings draw attendees from all over the world and are opportune events for pharmaceutical companies to showcase research and developments to those attending. These meetings are not only a key time for healthcare professionals (HCPs) to connect and engage with their peers and pharmaceutical companies in person, but also to engage online: sharing highlights and congress content. With all this activity happening it can be difficult for pharmaceutical companies attending congress to make a mark and not get lost in the noise. Many HCPs now spend time in their day-to-day engaging online, presenting a new opportunity and mode for informing and influencing your customers. Therefore, to successfully distinguish your voice and brand at congress it is even more important to make a clear and lasting impact on your online HCP customers.
CREATION supports our pharmaceutical clients with HCP insights and engagement strategies using our unique proprietary technology CREATION Pinpoint. Based on our many years of experience and expertise in HCP research we have put together five essential steps to prepare for congress and to increase your digital presence and voice.

1. Know what you are going to share with whom, and when it will be shared.

In order to engage HCPs online during congress, consider having an artillery of preplanned posts that will be of interest to HCPs in response to content shared during the meeting. To get optimum traction these posts could be shared during or directly after key events or news. Alternatively, release such posts at times that HCPs are most active online.

Using CREATION Pinpoint we analysed the HCP conversation at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in March 2019. It was seen that HCPs were most active sharing posts during presentations, particularly over the 2 o’clock session.

Examples of types of posts to share can include awareness of the therapy area, trial results or updates, and campaigns you are advocating for or involved in (see point 2). Novartis received high engagement on their post, from key stakeholders and HCPs, at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2018 conference, about optimisation of heart failure therapy, a key topic at the meeting.

https://twitter.com/Novartis/status/1034032867070930944

Try something new by working with digital opinion leaders (DOLs), HCPs who are highly influential online, or key opinion leaders (KOLs) to share a selection of preplanned posts to engage your HCP customers more effectively.

2. Collaborate to distribute content.

Working with partners, such as research journals, congress organisations and patient advocacy groups, can amplify the content that you are planning to release during congress. For example, releasing trial results through a digitally engaged research journal at or around the time your results are being presented during the congress, or from the congress’ own online account. AstraZeneca’s DECLARE-TIMI 58 was shared by both the ACC and the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Twitter accounts gaining a wide coverage of viewers.

https://twitter.com/ACCinTouch/status/1107634534017830912
https://twitter.com/CircAHA/status/1107631571404763136

Other partners to consider include patient advocacy groups present at congress meetings. These groups can help share your awareness campaigns or trial results, as well as helping to inject momentum into campaigns and causes that you may already be engaged in.

https://twitter.com/WomenHeartOrg/status/1106702417821949954

It can be helpful to determine which partners are most active at congress to aid your congress strategy. At the American College of Cardiology (ACC) meeting in 2019 the ACC, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and the ACC Journal (JACC) were among the most shared accounts.

3. Lay the groundwork for social media presence and HCP engagement.

Streamlining your company or brand voice at congress to allow for easy sharing and access by your HCP customers can be accomplished in a number of ways. Three ways to do this are to have a congress dedicated social media handle, developing and using consistent and concise hashtags, and generating anticipation for content you will be sharing at congress.

Companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Novo Nordisk have dedicated and active Twitter congress accounts. The companies have also ventured onto Instagram, creating Instagram Stories of key presentations happening at congress and planned company marketing events such as stands and panel discussions.

Between May 2018 and April 2019, Twitter account @NovoNordiskLive was mentioned 73 times by HCPs. Using this account, Novartis shared congress information and engaged HCPs in attendance, using relevant hashtags.

https://twitter.com/NovoNordiskLive/status/1122760993308913664

Hashtags are a prime way for HCP customers to search and keep track of topics. It is therefore important to use the right hashtags in posts prior to, during and post congress. At the American Society of Clinical Oncology congress in June 2018 top hashtags used included #asco18, #lcsm and #bcsm. You may even wish to create your own hashtag for your campaign or content being shared, and use your KOLs and DOLs to gain traction.

In 2016 Novo Nordisk effectively built anticipation around the LEADER trial results for CV outcomes for their product liraglutide. The value of well placed announcements and presentations at congress meetings throughout the year contributed to a large audience and advocacy for their product. Novo Nordisk shared various stages of results at meetings including the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, with HCPs eagerly sharing the results. A number of HCPs advocated and built anticipation for the sharing of trial results throughout the year at various congress meetings.

https://twitter.com/parthaskar/status/706029159890423808

4. Give HCPs what they want!

HCPs want easy and shareable information that they can engage with. Over the week of ESC 2018, out of 1,766 HCP retweets of the ESC Twitter account, 93% had images and videos. Knowing this, it is important to make sure that each slide of your congress presentation, as well as other content you will be posting, appeals to HCPs. Things such as company logo, font size, and colours all play a key role in communication and engagement of your HCPs customers.

https://twitter.com/AberdeenEpi/status/1123143751440961536

HCPs are increasingly engaging in a number of digital tools including polls and Twitter Chats, or tweet chats. During ACC19 Nicolas Thibodeau, a cardiologist from Québec, shared a poll asking a question in relation to data shared the previous day at congress. These new tools could be an effective means to engage your HCP customers in a number of different ways. Consider utilising your DOLs to initiate or sustain conversations in this way.

https://twitter.com/nthibodeaujarry/status/1107631993972510724

Twitter chats, and virtual journal clubs are frequently used by HCPs to discuss new research or share their opinions on certain topics with their peers on Twitter. These are often medical specialty specific, such as #PancChat and #PathJC. Such hashtags can also be curated around congress: a recent example was #BSRtweetup at the British Society for Rheumatology conference which ran between 30 April-2 May 2019. This hashtag was used in tandem with a series of talks advising attendees on how to utilise Twitter to connect with other HCPs to disseminate knowledge and resources around rheumatology. Various HCPs got involved, sharing pictures from the conference itself as well as premade resources.

https://twitter.com/synovialjoints/status/1123208665861885952
https://twitter.com/DrAiLynTan/status/1123321345977221121

5. Lead congress discussions with your KOLs or digital opinion leaders (DOLs).

Equipping and engaging with HCPs who are online is fundamental in your digital congress strategy. To do this consider collaborating with digital opinion leaders (DOLs); active and influential online HCPs (these DOLs may include some of your existing KOLs). One collaboration tactic may be to amplify the voice of KOLs and equip them in growing their online presence and activity to become DOLs.

https://twitter.com/David_Ouyang/status/1107300461147811840

Showcasing your DOLs in videos and online conversations are prime strategies at congress. During congress, posting videos interviewing your DOLs who are presenting has become standard practice, with continued success in HCP engagement.

https://twitter.com/PfizerCongress/status/1055021080342155265

Congress is a busy (if sometimes chaotic) time, and it can be difficult to plan your digital strategy. However, by focusing on these five key areas you can maximise your impact. The successes of getting congress right are an increase in your brand presence and reach, and dissemination of your congress message and content. This will result in an increase in HCP engagement with your company and your content shared. So, consider developing your digital marketing and engagement capabilities to put you at the forefront of marketing success.

CREATION can assist you in planning and tracking your congress strategy giving you a better understanding of HCPs needs and concerns.

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Meet the Author

Lara Meyer

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