Skip to content

Social media for scientific communications: where to start?


  • Social media can facilitate transparency and extend the reach of scientific communications.
  • Key steps in using social media to disseminate scientific data include defining the strategy, ensuring alignment of content with applicable policies and guidelines, tailoring posts to target audiences, and monitoring engagement.

A recent ISMPP podcast discussed the opportunities and challenges for social media in medical communications.

Caroline Shepherd and colleagues explored this topic further in ISMPP’s newsletter, where they provided tips on how to extend the reach of scientific data via social media channels.

1.  Determine the purpose and ensure alignment and approval within the organisation.

  • Map the social media landscape for scientific communications to inform execution and identify a way to distinguish your organisation from others.
  • Create an identity, purpose, and voice for the social media presence by developing organisation-wide best practices for handle naming, ownership, management, and monitoring of audience engagement.

2. Establish a cross-functional social media leadership team responsible for the development of compliant processes, oversight of strategy and its execution.

  • Ensure the posts and interactions are compliant with industry regulations and social media policies.

“…for the pharmaceutical industry, scientific communication with healthcare professionals and the general public occurs through scientific exchange that must be compliant with industry regulations. This includes the use of social media approaches both in the active provision of non-promotional information, and for responding to unsolicited requests received through social media.”

3. Provide content aligned with your organisation’s values and in a format preferred by the target audiences.

  • Select optimal platform and tailor the style, type, format, and timeliness of the information posted to audience needs and preferences.
  • Develop a style guide, lexicon, templates, and creative assets to maintain consistency.
  • Incorporate polls, questions, videos, and visuals to make content more engaging.
  • Align posts to your publication plan and ensure quick and tailored responses to comments; consider 24-hour monitoring for adverse events.
  • Agree on best practices for integrating the social media activity of each publication stakeholder into the publication development processes.

4. Monitor audience engagement and adapt the process and content accordingly. Depending on the overall goals for the social media activity, the following metrics can be used to measure engagement:

  • clicks to publications
  • post views/impressions
  • dialogue/appreciation/amplification rates (number of replies/likes/shares per post)
  • handle followers.

To conclude, the authors highlighted the importance of having realistic expectations about what can be achieved using this approach, and of learning from each social media initiative launched.


What do you think – should social media be an integral part of scientific communications?

Never miss a post

Enter your email address below to follow our blog and receive new posts by email.

Never miss
a post

Enter your email address below to follow The Publication Plan and receive new posts by email.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: