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Monday, August 13, 2012

Role and effects of social media on global medical device and technology firms

The growing international influence of social media cannot and should not be underestimated by medical device, diagnostic and technology firms (referred as medtech). Medtech firms need to employ digital marketing strategies and tactics through social networking and online marketing as consumers increasingly control their own health and medication decisions.

It is important to establish that the medical healthcare equipment and supplies market continues to grow. According to Datamonitor, the global medical device and diagnostics market will be worth $370.7 billion by 2015, which is 13.4 percent up on its value in 2010. However, the industry is extremely competitive and the rivalry is strong amongst the biggest firms that take the majority of the market share in many nations.

Consumer Health Trend

There is a wealth of evidence that suggests consumers are becoming increasingly influential over their own healthcare – making their own choices with regards to treatment and medication. According to Euromonitor, the mistrust in general practitioners, tighter household spending budgets and wider access to information via the internet, result in the consumers’ increasing involvement in their own healthcare decisions.

The report stated, “The internet has played a major role in empowering consumers, by providing opportunities for self-diagnosis, links to healthcare professionals, user forums, information on healthcare products and services, price comparison services and purchasing drug and equipment online.”

In addition, according to Euromonitor there’s an upward trend of consumers being more open and willing to buy their medication and healthcare equipment from overseas. Consumers all over the world prefer and look for online information in their own language. They also expect materials such as patient information and promotional brochures to be localized and translated. This infers that medical translation services are vital and can make a significant impact in the global marketplace. Medtech firms that ignore this demand can miss out on potential lucrative new markets.

Culture, social media and localization

Medtech firms of any size have a chance to compete with smart use of social media and digital marketing tools that target customers in emerging economies, such as Latin America, India, Russia and China.

Major emerging markets such as China and Latin America are particularly influenced by word-of-mouth (WOM) in decision-making and consumption of products. Micro-blogging is a suitable social media platform and online marketing tool to increase awareness and demand about medical device products online. Captured audience in these markets share “deals,” feedback and recommendations within their network of family, friends, peers and followers.

Moreover, Experian Simmons stated that Chinese consumers have avidly adopted Web 2.0 technology and are exceptionally influenced by word-of-mouth when making consumer choices. Meanwhile, Hispanic consumers are more likely to interact with brands through social networking than non-Hispanics.

A global reach with social media is achievable, but not if a company only relies on Facebook and Twitter. It goes beyond language – you have to know their culture and the technology they use. A number of other high profile social networks such as Weibo in China, Tuenti in Spain, Nasza Klasa in Poland, Fotolog in Argentina, and Wer Kennt Wen in Germany, are the preferred social media platforms in their respective countries than Facebook and Twitter.

The influence of social networking is a global phenomenon and any business should include social media activities in their organization’s marketing mix. For medical device and diagnostic businesses to achieve global reach, it is necessary to work with a qualified translation services provider with expertise in the medtech industry to guide them through the localization and translation process. Medtech firms still need to ensure that their message even if it’s in the social media context should follow and be mindful of any regulatory guidelines.

Planning the right blend of networks and messages also needs the proper localization and translation by a qualified language service provider (LSP). Working with an industry quality accredited LSP for medical translation services, will help ensure that your organization’s digital marketing campaign messages are translated and localized quickly and accurately.

References: Social Networking Accounts for 1 of Every 4 Minutes Spent Online in Argentina and Chile. March 3, 2011. (Web)
Datamonitor. Industry Profile Global Health Care Equipment & Supplies. July 2011.
Euromonitor International. “European Digital Divide: E-Commerce Markets in Europe – Opportunities and Prospects.” November 2011.
Euromonitor International. “Owning Health: The Move Towards Self-Care and Implications for Marketers.” July 2010
Experian Simmons. The 2011 Social Media Consumer Trend and Benchmark Report. 2011.

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