MacDougall Musings

Realizing A Biotech’s Goals Using Social Media

The MacDougall team brings decades of experience helping leading life sciences companies elevate their communication and connection with key audiences. Your success depends on visibility and credibility with your core audiences, partner with MacDougall to amplify your message and its impact.

Biotech is no longer a stranger to social media; it is typical now to see private and public companies alike maintain some form of online presence. For newly formed companies or those who have not joined the bandwagon, questions inevitably arise:

What is the point of social media? Which platforms should we be on? Is it worth the time and resources?

Social Media as a Microphone and an Earpiece

With social media, we have at our disposal a diverse and malleable set of tools that allows organizations and individuals to connect both directly and authentically. If utilized properly, social media can serve as an invaluable tool to amplify company messages and listen to their audiences, and to successfully accomplish the former, biotech companies must be committed to the latter.

Social listening provides companies with key insights in understanding the ongoing topics of conversation and industry updates and trends. On a more granular level, it can even uncover patient pain points or illuminate what reporters are writing about, which not only informs the production of engaging content that increases company visibility online, but also other facets of company strategy such as clinical trial development or media relations.

Just as a speaker would alter what they say into a microphone based on the feedback from their earpiece, biotech companies need to customize social media content based on how it is being received by their audience. A high volume does not equate to being heard, nor does output guarantee being received. Often the concern is, “how do we get our name out there?,” but companies can stand to garner genuine interest by re-framing the question to, “what do our audiences want to see?”

To Each Platform Their Own

The key in curating social media content to what people are looking for is understanding why they are using certain platforms in the first place. Here we will discuss two of the most popular: Twitter and LinkedIn.


Twitter is a “microblogging” social platform that promotes concise interactions (280 characters or less per tweet to be exact), which supports a swift and easy way to disperse company news and gather updates from peers, as well as tune into the latest online conversations and trends surrounding specific fields or indications. With 217 million daily active users worldwide looking to get up-to-speed quickly every day, the fast-paced nature of the platform demands content that stands out with specific calls to action. This makes it all the more important to employ visuals that capture the audience’s attention and provide clickable links to other sites where they can engage further.

Hashtags are the most useful tools on Twitter to both chime in and stay up to date on topics of interest. For biotech companies, they are crucial to utilize especially during real-time events such as scientific conferences and awareness days. Adding #AACR22 to a tweet about an upcoming poster presentation or #RareDiseaseDay to educational awareness posts will draw in the right individuals and organizations who are interested in the content and are likely to continue following the company.

On the flip side, developing a list of hashtags or accounts to follow can help companies get a pulse on current events and points of discussion in real time. Threads hosted by an advocacy group can provide a more intimate perspective on the patient experience, and quick takes from key opinion leaders (KOLs) and organizations provide a more informal source of information.


LinkedIn is the most comprehensive professional networking platform online, connecting job seekers and employers through their robust hiring infrastructure while simultaneously allowing businesses and professionals to showcase their corporate identity. As many as 49 million out of 810 million members are job searching on LinkedIn each week, with 77 job applications submitted every second, making it an online hotspot for talent acquisition and an incredibly useful tool for both budding and well-established biotech companies looking to hire.

Content posted on LinkedIn should be focused on highlighting corporate milestones and company culture, as well as calling out open positions. In particular, it allows potential talent to learn about the people behind the science through spotlighting individual team members or posting about company outings; providing an authentic ‘feel’ of the company will attract long-term employees who are not only qualified but also align with company values.

Aside from hiring, LinkedIn is also the perfect social network to flesh out a holistic corporate identity, and host content for a niche community. With ample real estate and less limited characters, comprehensive thought leadership and think pieces on a specific indication or an industry trend can reach professionals and organizations in similar or adjacent fields.

Now that we’ve covered the basic uses of Twitter and LinkedIn for biotechs, how do we know that our content is reaching the right audiences?

Mapping Goals to Metrics

Understanding the realized impact of social media comes down to mapping clear objectives to specific outcomes.

A general category to monitor is engagement, which encompasses metrics such as the number of likes, comments, and re-shares, and quantifies how many individuals are interacting with posts. Other standard metrics to keep an eye on are reach, which is the potential number of unique users that could have seen the content, and impressions, which indicate how many times the content popped up in users’ feeds. Various combinations of these three buckets can provide solid indicators that audiences are resonating with the content (or not). Further analytics can reveal the demographics of interactors, including age, location, and industry, which can help companies further curate content.

There are a wide variety of metrics that can be leveraged to directly measure whether a post or social campaign reached its intended target. If a company tweeted about their AACR presentation to lead people to the poster hosted on their website, they can check whether it was effective by looking at the click-through rate of the tweet or their website traffic analytics. If a company has a job opening on LinkedIn and made a series of posts promoting it, they can evaluate the impact of the social campaign by analyzing the performance of each post or the number of job applications received. Through tracking these metrics, companies can evaluate whether the content yielded tangible results and continue to hone in on the most effective approach.

If you are interested in growing and evaluating your social media presence through actionable strategies and measurable results, MacDougall is here to help.