Here’s How Pharma Brands Are Succeeding With Live Videos

Opinion: In 2016, pharma brands received more shares and comments per video than for any other type of content

One of the biggest content marketing trends in 2016 was the use of Facebook Live videos. Brands across sectors used this channel to provide audiences with interesting and valuable content. Surprisingly, use of this innovative video format even included pharmaceutical brands, which traditionally have been cautious about their social media presence.

Why live videos?

Live videos offer brands a chance to engage with their customers in real-time. In many ways, they are similar to live television broadcasts with the added benefit of being able to receive and respond to user comments and questions.

Since many pharma brands focus on community building on social media, live videos provide a good opportunity to advance this content strategy. Live videos allow pharma brands to provide educational content and bring to life their commitment to ensuring better care for those who use their products.

To explore the use of live videos in the pharma industry, we analyzed the 24 most popular over-the-counter medicine brands on Facebook during 2016. The analysis uncovered the following insights:

  • The percentage of videos that pharma brands published increased just over 1 percent from 2013 and constituted almost one-quarter of the total analyzed content.
  • In 2016, pharma brands received more shares and comments per video than for any other type of content.
  • The post that received the most shares in 2016 was a video.

  • More than one-half of the videos published by pharma brands in 2016 were promoted.

It’s evident that pharma brands have not only realized the merits of video content creation on social media, but have also been successful in many instances.

Tums, for instance, tapped into the latest internet obsession—Tasty-like videos. You would miss any mention of the brand in the video unless you look very closely. It cleverly promoted its antacid with a delectable video of a very protein and dairy-rich dish.

Brands use this format to different ends. Some of these include:

To cover an event: Pharma brands went live on Facebook at several pharma conferences to educate their audience about innovations happening in the industry. The spokespeople can also promote their brand as a pioneer in a new technology being highlighted at a conference. Additionally, getting a speaker or an expert from the conference to give a short interview adds to the brand’s credibility. The brand can convey their commitment to advancements in the field while also highlighting the relevance of these innovations in the most accessible manner.

Take a look at this live video by GE Healthcare where it used the format to cover a World Health Assembly event and won great engagement.

Boehringer Ingelheim also used Facebook Live to similar ends.

To conduct interviews and facilitate fan interactions with specialists and influencers: Getting an influencer or an expert on Facebook Live shows that the brand cares about the community that it addresses. By bringing in a cardiologist who can give an overview of the treatment available for heart disease and answering user questions, Mayo Clinic was able to garner more than 11,000 views for its video.

Boehringer Ingelheim also did a similar session with an idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis specialist.

Several other brands use this format to give a demonstration of their product in action. They get a chance to show their viewers the main features of the product. This would work very well for pharma products like inhalers.

How to integrate live videos into your social media strategy

  • Announce the event beforehand: Live videos involve considerable preparation and expenditure in getting a speaker on board and figuring out the other logistics. In order to ensure audience participation, it’s important for a brand to announce the details of the event in advance. This is especially true if you’re looking for a more interactive session, which requires your audience to watch the video live.
  • Make the best use of in-house talent: Live videos are a great way for brands to tap into their base of influencers. Several pharma brands have a celebrity or expert spearheading their campaigns through their brand portals and communities. Owing to their stature and following as experts, a brand is sure to experience a surge in engagement.
  • Get your audience to participate: This isn’t just an engagement hack. Pharma brands that are committed to growing and nurturing their branded portals should encourage greater interaction on their content. By inviting comments from fans on live videos, brands get rich insights into their fan bases and their questions and concerns. Brands that don’t answer viewer questions posted as comments will lose audience participation. In addition to addressing these in the video, brands can stress these pain points in content they create later, as well. This can inform their content strategy as well as product design.
  • Publicize the video even after it’s up: Brands should consider live videos as just one element of a campaign. Just as brands should have posts that announce live videos, there can be posts that refer to and take off from live videos. This helps increase engagement and return on investment of the efforts and is key to keep people interested. Facebook allows brands to promote live videos after they have been recorded so that social media audiences who missed the events can still watch them.


Live videos are a great way for brands to connect with their audience. Given that pharma brands have considerable resources like in-house specialists and are familiar with video production, live videos are something that they can easily do.

Brands should, however, make sure that the live videos and topics addressed are aligned with their other campaigns and larger social media objectives.

Finally, as is true of all things social media, brands should measure every aspect of their live video performance, reception and engagement. This way, pharma brands can make decisions on the quantity and frequency of live videos and nail down a solid strategy.

Lux Narayan is CEO of social media analytics provider Unmetric.

Image courtesy of smartstock/iStock.