A recent  Technorati report on digital influence  – Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report – had some interesting findings on how buyers react to different kinds of online marketing, as well as where most marketing budgets are focusing their marketing dollars.

According to the report, 60% of brand marketers are planning to increase their social media spend by 40% in 2013. The bulk of that digital spending (around 90%) goes to display ads, SEO, and video, with only 10% of the overall spend allocated for social media, including blogging. And of that 10%, more than half goes to Facebook. Only 11% of the overall 10% is leftover for blogging and connecting with blogging influencers.

In contrast, buyers consider blogs to be among the top 5 “most trustworthy” sources for information and more important than Facebook in influencing purchasing decisions. There seems to be a slight disconnect between what marketers think is influencing buyers, and what really is influencing buyers.

What does this mean for the Medical Device Industry?

How does this affect the medical industry in particular? Another recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute found that 58% of healthcare marketers use blogs, versus 74% of all marketers. That means that although blogging is perceived by the buying public to be one of the  most influential sources of information in making purchasing decisions, and the overall marketing community is missing mark here, the healthcare industry, and medical devices in particular, are falling behind even further.

This isn’t really a surprise, as healthcare and medical device companies are far behind other industries in entering and leveraging the world of content marketing, blogging, and social media. The same survey by the Content Marketing Institute found that marketers in the healthcare industry lags about 2 years behind all other marketers. Part of this is due to the complexity of current FDA and HIPAA regulations (or lack thereof, as the case may be). Part of this is due to the tendency of these industries to stay with familiar marketing strategies, even when those strategies aren’t performing as well as they used to.

But one really big reason for these companies to start to step out of that comfort zones is the ever-increasing use of social media by doctors and hospitals – the target audience of medical device companies. According to various surveys and studies by Manhattan Research, Publicis Healthware International and the Journal of Medical Internet Research, doctors are using social media often, and they’re using to research new devices, get up-to-date medical information, and attend training sessions online.

In fact, 72 percent of physicians use social media, and 68% have viewed videos online to gather information on medical devices specifically. Those are pretty high numbers. And for device companies that utilize DTC marketing to raise awareness among consumers of their product, the numbers are just as compelling. 51% of consumers use online health information sites to for medical research,  80% of nurses and nurse practitioners visited a pharmaceutical, medical device or biotech site in 2009 (that number is bound to be much higher now in 2013), and 74% of those nurses and nurse practitioners recommended health-related sites to patients (Manhattan Research).

The medical device industry may be slow and cautious in adopting social media, but it’s past time to leverage these marketing strategies – blogging in particular – in order to connect with doctors, hospitals and even consumers. Consistent, high quality content is proven to influence physicians, hospitals, and consumers in their buying decisions. And if your company isn’t starting to play in these waters, you’ll be left behind that ones that are. Medtronic is a great example of a medical device company that has embraced the use of social media tactics and done very well. Is it time for you to start?

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