The Best Social Media Platforms for Life Science Businesses

Social media has become such a core part of the marketing toolkit that it’s hard to remember a time before it existed. It’s not only for consumer brands, either. According to HubSpot, 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level executives use social media as part of their purchasing decisions.

Those are some serious numbers.

But the social media landscape moves quickly, and many businesses—especially those without a marketing team—struggle to keep up. In fact, a survey from the Content Marketing Institute found that adapting to social media algorithm changes was the second most important marketing issue for B2B organizations in 2018 (the first was keeping pace with SEO changes – a whole other issue we’ll address in future posts).

The long and short of it is that what may have worked for your brand two years ago on social media will not necessarily have the same impact today.

Talk about overwhelming!

There’s a good reason companies of all sizes outsource social media. But if you’re not there yet, no problem – you can still cultivate a strong social media presence that increases brand awareness, drives traffic to your website, and generates high-quality leads.

How? Start by choosing the right social platforms.

Before we dive in, it’s important to recognize that you don’t need to have a presence on every channel, especially when budget and resources are limited. Social media marketing should be viewed as another tool to use strategically to support your business’s overarching goals, not something you feel obligated to do just because other brands are. (For more on marketing strategy, see our marketing strategy and planning tips for the life sciences.)

How to Choose the Right Social Media Platforms

So, you’re probably asking, which social media platforms should I be active on, and which can I leave out? Even if you already have a digital marketing plan in place, asking this question every few months can help you re-evaluate your efforts to save time and money.

It’s all about your audience, whether you’re in the life sciences or any other industry. Figuring out where they spend time online will help you narrow down the choices (and there are many!).

Start by asking the following questions:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What are their demographic characteristics?
  • Where are they located?
  • What media are they consuming?
  • What are their typical behaviours?
  • What social platforms (if any) are they using frequently?
  • Where do they go for information?
  • How do they decide what to buy?

Once you’ve thought about where your audience is and how they behave online, it’ll be easier to pick your primary platforms. Overall, it’s better to give 110% to a couple of highly effective channels than water down your efforts across a dozen different social networking sites.

Below we discuss the two best social media channels for B2B health science and life science businesses. We also highlight one emerging platform to watch, and another to keep on your radar but proceed with caution.

Top Social Media Platforms for B2B Life Sciences: LinkedIn and Twitter

LinkedIn

User demographics:2

  • Age (% of age group that uses LinkedIn) – 29% of those aged 18-29 use LinkedIn; 33% of those aged 30-49 use LinkedIn; 24% of those aged 50-64 use LinkedIn; 9% of those aged 65+ use LinkedIn
  • Gender – 50% male, 50% female
  • Education – 50% of adults with a college degree or higher use LinkedIn; 22% of adults with some college use LinkedIn; 9% of adults with high school or less use LinkedIn

If you do business with other companies and had choose just one social platform, it should be LinkedIn – hands down. Sprout Social pegs LinkedIn as the #1 social media platform for B2B brands, making it a slam dunk for scientific fields.

A strategic LinkedIn presence helps build brand recognition and trust, demonstrate thought leadership, and—most importantly—generate leads. According to Quick Sprout, 45% of B2B marketers have acquired customers using LinkedIn.2

Paid LinkedIn advertising can also be an effective lead generator, with HubSpot reporting that 65% of B2B companies have gained a client from LinkedIn paid ads.2

How’s that for convincing? Here are some tips on maximizing your brand’s impact on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Tips for Life Science Brands:

  • Create a complete, on-brand LinkedIn company page to gain more views and encourage click-throughs to your website
  • Share content of value to your audience (weekly, at minimum)
  • Include images or other visuals in your posts for more comments and clicks
  • Highlight your employees as thought leaders to establish credibility
  • Experiment with paid LinkedIn ads, including sponsored posts, to supplement your company’s organic reach
  • Encourage your sales reps to incorporate LinkedIn (general engagement as well as direct messaging) into their business development strategy
  • Leverage the networking power of LinkedIn for personal branding, especially for your company’s subject matter experts
  • Use the analytics tools within the company page to evaluate your performance

Twitter

User demographics:2

  • Age – 40% of those aged 18-29 use Twitter; 27% of those aged 30-49 use Twitter; 19% of those aged 50-64 use Twitter
  • Gender – 50% male, 50% female
  • Education – 32% of adults with a college degree or higher use Twitter, 25% of adults with some college use Twitter, 18% of adults with a high school diploma or less use Twitter

While its popularity seems to be waning in some sectors, the platform is still going strong in the health sciences and life sciences, including pharma, agriculture, dietary supplements and natural healthcare, professional service providers, clinical research, laboratories, and more.

According to 2018 stats from HubSpot, companies using Twitter gain double the leads than those not actively using it. This is encouraging for B2B organizations wondering whether the platform is worthwhile. Twitter also has paid options to boost followers and engagement. Below are key tips for effectively using Twitter in the life sciences space.

Twitter Tips for Life Science Brands:

  • Avoid being overly self-promotional (use the 80/20 rule – 80% of posts should be non-promotional, and the other 20% can include company announcements, special offers, etc.)
  • Post live tweets with updates and expert commentary from conferences and trade shows
  • Follow and engage with industry influencers and thought leaders
  • Regularly share valuable content (your own or from another source) tailored to your audience’s needs
  • Show off your brand personality by using an authentic, unique voice
  • Be conversational – interact with others by replying to tweets from others or re-tweeting another user’s posts
  • Include images, videos, or gifs in posts to encourage engagement
  • Include hashtags in tweets to be found more easily
  • Develop a creative custom hashtag for your brand

Emerging Social Media Platform for B2B Life Sciences: Instagram

Instagram

User demographics:2

  • Age – 64% of those aged 18-29 use Instagram; 40% of those aged 30-49 use Instagram; 21% of those aged 50-64 use Instagram
  • Gender – 30% of males online use Instagram, 39% of females online use Instagram
  • Education – 32% of adults with a college degree or higher use Twitter, 25% of adults with some college use Twitter, 18% of adults with a high school diploma or less use Twitter

Instagram is a highly visual, lifestyle-based platform with a much younger user base, meaning that it’s not a sure bet for B2B brands – at least not yet. We consider it an emerging platform for the life sciences, especially given that today half of all B2B buyers are Millennials.1

With most B2B companies tending to overlook Instagram, there is less competition and a greater opportunity to stand out without investing large sums in paid advertising (see our take on Facebook in the next section). Overall, it’s a worthwhile platform to have presence on if used the right way.

Instagram Tips for Life Science Brands:

  • Make sure your account is an Instagram business account so you can view key stats like popular posts and follower demographics
  • Maintain a branded, curated feed that tells your brand story
  • Visually appealing content is an absolute must! If this isn’t your strong suit, seek outside help or else your efforts will be wasted
  • Use Instagram stories to chronicle events and conferences, highlight your team members, and communicate corporate culture/values
  • Make sure to include your company website URL in your profile so visitors can click through and learn more about your brand
  • Try using photo captions as an opportunity for microblogging (i.e., writing a short blog-like post your audience will find valuable)

A Word on Facebook…

While Facebook is still the most used social media platform in the world, recent algorithm changes have made it exceptionally difficult for brands to organically (that is, without paying) show up in users’ feeds. For B2B life science companies, this means Facebook is generally not a worthwhile channel to prioritize unless you have budget to invest in paid ads.

That being said, if your brand is already using Facebook and you want to continue, optimize your efforts by:

  • Avoiding sales pitches or overtly promotional content
  • Focusing on content aimed at the awareness stage of the buyer journey, such as educational articles and thought leadership
  • Highlighting your brand story and values such as sustainability, corporate social responsibility, or company origins
  • Investing in paid campaigns, making sure to measure success before continuing on

Want more life science marketing tips?

For more information on marketing in the life sciences, be sure to grab our FREE, 19-page guide, Simplifying Marketing in the Health, Wellness, and Life Sciences. It’s brimming with tactical information you can apply to your brand today, including which marketing tactics to use for each stage of the buyer journey.

1. Blue Corona, 2019; 2. Sprout Social, 2019

Jennifer Andrews

Jennifer Andrews

Founder & Chief Marketing Strategist
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