Thinking of Dipping Your Toes in Social Media? Medtronic is the Example to Follow

 When it comes to social media, device companies are largely Neanderthals. 


But there is one company who is not waiting around for a cop out that goes somewhat like this - well, the FDA hasn't issued any firm guidance on how device companies should use social media. 
Well, if you are waiting around for that, I suggest you read Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" where the protagonists wait endlessly for their savior to show up. [FDA did issue some guidance applicable to pharma companies, but it still isn't what companies were expecting.]
But I digress. The company is Medtronic.
Medtronic is not waiting for any savior but has waded deep into social media. Not just deep but well, believes Elis Schadauer, principal and marketing strategist at Tapis Marketing, a Minnesota-bsaed healthcare marketing firm.
In an educational session hosted by trade association LifeScience Alley in Minneapolis on Thursday, Schadauer repeatedly came back to Medtronic, saying that its efforts in social media "are my best practices example."
So what have they done correctly?

  • Medtronic has fully embraced social media - the company has a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (this is one of several accounts) and YouTube (this is one of several channels)
  • They have devoted a big chunk of their homepage real estate to social media showing visitors the option of connecting with them through various means - Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.
  • Medtronic hasn't just created accounts and then forgotten about them. They are committed to social media.
  • They realize social media is not push marketing where the receiver doesn't respond
  • Most importantly, the company's CEO tweets - not every milisecond of the day and not even everyday - but it still sends a signal about how the company as a whole views social media.

 OK, so the response from most device firms is predictable - who has the human resources of a Medtronic to devote time to social media? 
Fair enough, but here are ther reasons that should get you to reconsider, Schauder says. And pronto:

  • 72 percent of doctors use social media personally, professional or both, according to research 
  • 61 percent use it weekly to explore new medical information
  • 58 percent find social media a good way to get current, high-quality information

 The above is based on research done by Manhattan Research, Publicis Healthware International, Journal of Medical Internet Research. But wait there's more.

  • 68 percent of physicians have watched online video to learn about medical devices and there is high interest online video training sessions provided by device companies 

 That's according to the 2011 Digital MedTech Physician Study conducted by Manhattan Research. 
So if doctors are looking to learn more about devices, why not create a corporate YouTube channel where you can upload videos of the product.  
Need bit more convincing: social media marketing and engagement is far cheaper than traditional marketing methods to raise brand awareness in healthcare. Get on the bandwagon fast or the information age and lead generation opportunities afforded by social media will pass you by. 
By Arundhati Parmar, Senior Editor, MD+DI
                                            [Photo Credit: Flickr user juaniraola]
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