As the real world is digitized into data points, the amount of data collected and shared on the internet grows and grows. And through tactics like social listening, this data is yours for the analyzing.
From a research standpoint, social listening can reveal valuable insights to help develop study protocols, keep tabs on competitors, and strategize media tactics, ultimately making recruiting and enrolling for clinical trials simpler, smarter, and more efficient. Below, we’ve broken down the top five reasons you should be leveraging/using social listening for clinical trials.
- Influencing protocol development.
Key learnings from social listening can play a big role in influencing protocol development. By understanding the target audience’s average lifestyle, the patient voice can be used to build protocols that fit a certain daily routine without major disruption.
For example, consider how social listening could be used to influence a study focusing on women ages 18–35. The protocol calls for daytime appointments; however, through social listening, we learn the target patients are mostly working women. Having to leave work to attend appointments could be a barrier to those who would otherwise like to participate in the study. With this information, the protocol can then be revised to include evening appointments, which better fit these women’s routines – providing a better chance of meeting recruitment goals.
- Keeping tabs on competitive brands and studies.
Social listening can also be used to run a landscape analysis. This enables you to observe what your competition is doing by discovering and tracking social handles, hashtags, and keywords. The data collected can provide insights into what competitors are sharing and how consumers are responding, as well as which influencers are interacting with competitors or their messages.
This research serves as a real-time case study about what is working and what isn’t. It can then inform ways to differentiate your study from others.
- Strategizing media tactics for campaign execution.
Knowing where patients are searching for information and spending their time online allows a media planner to identify the best places to reach a target patient population. This information can also highlight the most popular keywords that patients are using in online conversations.
This data should influence SEO strategy, banner ad copy, paid search terms, and more. Media planners can then ensure that the message is reaching the right people at the right time and in the right place. If research shows a large number of relevant groups or conversations taking place on Facebook, we might consider a paid post on that social network. Or if there’s a popular search phrase being used by patients to describe a health issue, we might implement a paid search campaign.
- Monitoring study activity.
Social listening platforms first surfaced to track online activity, much like clipping services were created to track news coverage for PR professionals. This function allows sponsors to stay connected to a study and the buzz happening around it. We’ve seen everything from sharing opinions about a study name to encouraging participation in a study by sharing website URLs – even praising a friendly employee at a research site.
It’s important to keep tabs on the conversation. You can track sentiment, trends, boosts in conversation, new hashtags, and more, all of which provide you with a stream of useful information regarding your study.
- Selecting key markets and countries for study deployment.
Though most sites are determined prior to patient recruitment, social listening can support preliminary research and highlight geographic opportunities where we should be communicating and recruiting. This is especially true for data outside the United States.
Market research, surveys, and focus groups provide strong data about the general population. However, consumers’ general views and statistical evidence are considered only at a specific moment in time. Social listening, on the other hand, provides real-time data – such as people reacting to news or events, or patients discussing new medications or new diagnoses. For instance, primary data may show that a certain market has a high incidence of a particular disease. Social listening might reveal a flurry of conversation about that disease in a region of that market. It would then be beneficial to increase efforts in that specific area where those people are already engaged.
These are our top five reasons we use social listening, but there are numerous others. Want to learn more about the benefits of social listening for clinical trials? Ready to get started on a social listening strategy of your own? Download a free copy of our social listening OrangePaper.