Social media branding and engagement for Clinical Trials

In the latest episode of #clinfluencers, Luke Edington flew to San Diego for the 2017 BIO International Convention. While there, he met up with the “Clinical Trials Guru” Dan Sfera, and his business partner Chris Sauber. Have a look at the video (above), and then read on.

Dan is ubiquitous on social media when it comes to clinical trials. He has made many explainer videos about research and has also interviewed many people in the industry. Dan is a unique position in the industry and shares his insights on how you can use social media to further develop your trial site’s brand and reach.

Aim to produce regular quality content around issues that matter to you. Video content is by far the most engaging medium, and through it you can really connect with your target audience. However, videos may not always be feasible due to time or hardware constraints. In this case, consider doing podcasts or text blogs, which have very low barriers to entry. You will still be able to give a voice to your trial site, and can work just as well.

It is important to think about the subject matter in the content you will produce, as it will come from your overall goals and business strategy. For example, on Dan’s youtube channel, he provides explainer videos, podcasts, interviews, and shares his general thoughts on clinical trials. Aim to produce something that plays to your strengths, in order to demonstrate what you know and what your views are. Because the clinical trials industry is quite a conservative one, you may find it hard to produce content – don’t be limited by what the norm is and instead have a look at what companies in different sectors do to engage their audience.

Social media can be used in two main ways. Dan makes the distinction between sales, which operates on short timescales, and branding, which is a longer-term activity. Sales is immediate results, something that will help recruit participants for a new study, get a sponsor’s attention for their new project, or selling merchandise. Sales tends to be overlooked as a profession, but it really comes down to the results you can achieve. If you are able to attract a large amount of interest and convert that interest into people who use and support your trial site, you are a good salesperson.

Branding, however, is more focused on how your trial site is perceived by the audience you are interested in. It aims to influence this perception, and does this through providing useful or interesting content. As an example, think about what content other companies produce, their “voice” (casual, formal, funny, informative), and who they choose to produce content for. All are important aspects of branding. Get involved and get out there, don’t wait to achieve perfection before posting or publishing anything, because then it will never happen.

It is important to remember that basically everyone can and does post their interests and thoughts on social media. If you do your research on a specific person or group of people, you can find out what they’re talking about and their opinions on a wide variety of subjects (check out their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other appropriate channels). This should give you a good idea about what types of content to produce. Don’t be afraid to engage with them – companies are encouraged and often expected to interact with their audience on social media. You might be surprised at the results; this interview only happened because Luke met Dan (and Chris) through social media channels!

Explore how you can do more online in a flash with the newest Datapharm Initiative – The free trial site and clinical trial information pages you create are designed to be shared on social media!

Also for the full uncut version of this interview, head to Dan’s channel at

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