Sometimes, the best way to understand what to do (or not to do) is learning from the successes – and even failures – of other brands. In this social media-driven eyeforpharma Barcelona 2020 presentation, MSD and Roche, took the virtual stage to explore how pharma brands can unlock the power of social media and bring measurable value to social channels. But, what stood out the most was how they used their own experiences with social media to shape the content of the session. 

Let’s start by exploring MSD’s approach. The brand shared a few ways they’ve been able to successfully leverage social media:

  • Education
    • Educating audiences through short, impactful videos
    • Incorporating “Did You Know” stories
  • Corporate Reputation
    • Highlighting their efforts around supporting important causes through short films
    • Showcasing what they do through employee experiences
    • Featuring their history of innovation through short videos
  • Clinical Trials
    • Leveraging an emotional approach to engage and recruit users for clinical trials
    • Embedding social cues to amplify messaging and reach a wider audience


Now, let’s take a look at Roche’s approach. Rather than sharing a story of success, the brand opened up with a case study of an experience that didn’t go so well:

  • In anticipation of ASCO in 2015, the brand published lots of content using the hashtag #ASCO15 across different channels
  • At a first glance, results seemed pretty impressive earning them top spots in terms of mentions and impressions
  • But, there were two important questions that were never asked:
    • How exactly did the time and money spent on this campaign drive business results?
    • Or provide value to our audiences?
  • That quickly turned what seemed like a success story into a learning lesson that sparked a new approach to leveraging social media


Both companies had plenty of advice to share with their listeners along the way. Here are just a few impactful soundbites from the presentation:

“In terms of business opportunities for pharma, there are four main opportunities: social media marketing, social selling, employer branding and corporate reputation.” 

- Cyril Mandry, Senior Director of Marketing at MSD

“For social media to be effective we have to have a very clear story to tell.”

- Cyril Mandry, Senior Director of Marketing at MSD

“You need to develop valuable content, not just pretty (visually striking) content.”

- Manu Field, Social Media Strategy Leader at Roche

“Have a really robust set of metrics that you can use to assess the performance of any campaign, optimize the campaign while it’s running and feed the learnings into the next campaign.”

- Manu Field, Social Media Strategy Leader at Roche

About the Author:

Khye Tucker is an Innovation Strategist in Columbus, OH. With a passion for writing and a background in communications, Khye strives to bring brand stories to life through a fresh perspective, innovative thinking and creative storytelling.

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