Social media has connected people like no other form of media before: figures show that 3.2 billion people worldwide are active on at least one social media platform. As businesses in any industry, we can't ignore social media. Therefore, it’s important that we are joining the conversation too.
Social media clearly has rich potential as a means of recruiting patients for clinical trials, but many sites and sponsors simply aren’t sure how to effectively manage this in practice.
Many clinical research companies may see building a large following on their preferred social media platform as success. However, it takes more than a like on your Facebook page or a follower on Twitter to increase your recruitment figures. The important measures of your success, or lack of, in recruiting through social media are: timing, click-through-rate and engagement. Forget about your amount of ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ for a moment, these are the metrics that really matter.
Achieving success through social media requires understanding your audience and their habits. It’s important to know when your audience is likely to be using and interacting most on your chosen platform. Your content may be high-quality, but if your audience is not online to see it or respond, then your efforts will falter, fail to achieve maximum potential, or simply fall on deaf ears.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to ensure you are always posting at the optimum times. Begin with a simple online search, which will reveal plenty of articles that address the best times to be active on all forms of social media, and data that with which you can compare them. This will give you an initial idea of how best to schedule your content and when to be sure you are online and getting involved in interactions.
Another way to refine your timing is through learning from yourself. Much of successful social media use can be attributed to trial and error. Facebook and Twitter make it very easy to see the exact times you posted content, and by comparing this with the number of engagements your post receives, you can gauge which times your audience are most active. Twitter’s ‘analytics’ tab also shows you the number of ‘impressions’ your tweet received, and this is a key metric which signifies the number of times users saw your tweets on their timelines or feeds and is a key indicator of whether your audience was online or not at the time of your post. Most social networks have similar ways of presenting your impression count so for best results, keep an eye on this statistic and adjust the timings of your posts accordingly depending on when your audience are most active.
Engagement is perhaps the most crucial metric of all to improving the performance of your online recruitment. It is defined as the ways in which your audience responds to the content you are posting. This could mean a variety of things across different platforms, for example: ‘Likes’ on Facebook, ‘retweets’ on twitter, and comments or shares on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s important to note that engagement doesn’t mean the amount of likes or followers you have on your company profile, in reality these figures mean little. Engagement is concerned with actual interactions your audience has with you. If users engage it demonstrates appreciation, interest or intrigue in the content you are posting and helps you determine what type of content your audience responds to best.
Engagement is relatively simple to track. All social media sites have some way of displaying the number of likes, comments, clicks, views and responses each of your posts receive from your audience. In-depth analytics are also available on most sites which compare and sort your posts by engagement, allowing you to figure out which type of content your audience responds to most. Trial and error, again, is key to great engagement. Learn from posts that are most successful and try to replicate them with similar content.
Online articles are another source of advice, and there are many sites which offer expert advice on crafting your posts for maximum engagement. This advice should be generally inexpensive and often free.
A key part of using social media to further your patient recruitment is persuading your audience to visit your website. This will most likely be the place where they are able to sign up for a clinical trial, learn more about your site or CRO, and submit any general enquiries. Your click-through rate measures how frequently links to your site are clicked by your audience.
By monitoring your click-through rate closely, you will be able to determine which content is most likely to attract attention to your site and what you are offering. A click through to your website is a declaration of interest from your audience.
An simple way to boost your click-through rate is to ensure that you are consistently posting content that is published and linked to your own website, for example blogs, articles and information. This means that when a viewer clicks to read the article they will be directed straight to your site.
Again, refining your content and improving the ‘clickability’ of your posts can be done by monitoring your click-through rate of previous posts and replicating the type of content that provides the most clicks. Click-through rates can be found on almost every social media platform on the same pages as the other main analytics.
Other Useful Tools/Programs for Tracking Key Metrics: