First-mover medical laboratory marketers are engaging customers on web sites such as MySpace.com and YouTube.com
Social networking is a radically new concept that innovative clinical laboratories, pathology practices, and in vitro diagnostic (IVD) manufacturers are beginning to use as a new marketing channel to their customers and prospects. The first wave of pathology and clinical laboratories are establishing a presence on such popular social networking web sites as Facebook.com, MySpace.com, YouTube.com, and Twitter.com.
Clinical laboratory marketing experts are using social networking sites like these to push products and services and to interact with customers. These sites allow pathologists, clinical labs, in vitro diagnostics manufacturers, and other companies to promote themselves and to tout the performance of their services and products by connecting lab directors and pathologists to physician clients and consumers in ways that were not possible years ago.
However, along with the upside to create favorable impressions, experts in marketing warn that there is a downside for laboratories that want to use social networking. Allowing customers to discuss your laboratory company, its products, and services can generate useful and powerful, word-of-mouth testimonials, but customers can also say whatever they want, meaning they can make negative comments as well.
The Dark Report recently provided the clinical laboratory industry’s first intelligence briefing on social networking. In an article, “Social Networking Is New Lab Marketing Channel,” in the April 19, 2010 issue, experts from Seidler Bernstein Inc., marketing consultants in Cambridge, Massachusetts, shared the inside story on how first-mover medical laboratories and IVD manufacturers are using these social networking sites to interact with physicians and consumers, particularly Generation Y pathologists and clinical laboratory professionals.
While a pathology group or clinical laboratory may find the increased interaction with physician clients and patients to be useful, there are disadvantages to using social networking as well. One of the disadvantages is a lack of control over what customers say about your company and its products, said Rob Kinslow, Vice President, Strategic Communications for Seidler Bernstein Inc.
Kinslow related a story about how a YouTube video shows a bicycle rider arguing with a courier driving a car clearly marked with the logo of a well-known national laboratory company. The bike rider has confronted the courier about dangerous driving and their discussion as captured on video is not favorable for the lab company. This video was posted in 2007, is still on YouTube, and has been viewed thousands of times.
“When customers make negative comments on your company’s social networking web pages, there are things you can do as a company to limit your risk,” Kinslow said. “You can turn off the comment function for example. You can also moderate the comments and respond to specific issues that someone is posting on the social networking web site.”
“Anyone can post content on YouTube, and content either is in favor of the company or not,” explained Kinslow. “So it is very important to manage content by creating a channel that is specific to your company and your products or services. This is one way you are assured that those visiting the social networking web site—like YouTube.com for example—specifically to find information about your company are getting the official channel created by your company and not some casual posting by, say, an irate customer. Anyone who has been to YouTube realizes that a lot of the content are shared or are contributed formally or informally.”
“The point here is that individuals may already be posting content and comments about your clinical laboratory or IVD company on sites like Myspace.com and YouTube.com,” continued Kinslow. “That makes it a smart strategy for your organization to create content and a channel that gives you more control over what customers and prospects will find when they visit these social networking web site. The channel your laboratory organization creates also helps prevent that a video you posted or a customer has posted about your new laboratory analyzer or diagnostic assay doesn’t appear alongside someone’s son’s skateboard demo.”
For Dark Daily readers who want more information about the pioneering uses of social networking by clinical laboratories, pathology practices, and IVD manufacturers, The Dark Report has graciously provided a direct link to the full social networking intelligence briefing with Rob Kinslow of Seidler Bernstein (Or copy and paste this URL: http://www.darkreport.com/Social-Networking-New-marketing-channel.htm ). This intelligence briefing includes insights about how Myriad Genetics of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, California, are using social networking to communicate with patients who are interested in the diagnostic tests associated with both companies.
Additionally, Dark Daily would be interested to hear from any pathologist, clinical laboratory, or lab industry vendor actively involved in social networking as a way to promote their business and create conversations with their customers.
What may surprise those Baby Boomer readers of Dark Daily is the fact that YouTube.com has overtaken Google.com as the world’s largest internet search engine, with more than two billion views per day! The average visitor to YouTube spends more than 24 minutes on the site, which is why lab industry marketers want to learn how to use this channel to communicate with their customers and prospects.