Digital Social Media Clinical Trials

A Dose of Digital/Social Media in Clinical Trial Recruitment & “Patient Centricity”

Infuse Patient and Clinical Trial Communications with New Energy to Reshape Perception, Increase Awareness, Drive Recruitment and Action.

Interested in how Digital and Social Media can help in Clinical Trials? Send an email to Learn more here: BK Digital Clinical Trial Solutions.

Why It Matters:

Clinical Trial Recruitment and connecting with patients can be challenging, with a majority of trials failing to meet recruitment goals, enduring millions of dollars in lost operational and opportunity costs: 

  • 95% of clinical trials also use the very same handful of companies for website builds. This leaves the clinical trial industry experience feeling flat and sterile, as template-driven content can only go so far. . 

With community and deep engagement being critical in health decision making, Pharma continues to fall behind in the adoption of digital and social media to reach target audiences. A lack of proper messaging, branding, strategy and content planning, including third-party partnerships, directly affect the ability to raise awareness, educate and prompt action. 

While patients and caregivers do plenty of research on their own with “Dr. Google,” sites like are extremely hard to navigate, which means there isn’t always a path forward for patients that may be interested in or eligible for a trial – but we have the tools and ability to fix that. 

What This Means for You:

For years, we’ve had technology at our disposal to help close the gap between our patient support efforts, Clinical Trials and the healthcare professionals and patients/caregivers we want to reach. If used correctly, we can optimize trial awareness and recruitment efforts, while aligning more closely with how digital and social media are integrated into our everyday lives. 

Branding: Helps Make Trials Feel Cohesive and Inviting, Like a Campaign

  • Clinical trials are already hard to find, learn about and become a part of. Lack of awareness, discussion materials and barriers to recruitment persist, leaving gaps for both patients and healthcare professionals that we can help bridge.
  • Creating even light branding for your clinical trial makes it more recognizable, inviting and less “sterile” than the current recruitment landscape.
  • Developing a theme, logos and creatively executing them make trials feel more tangible, accessible and may prompt action where current efforts fall short.
  • Leveraging branding and creative execution on digital and social channels helps foster awareness, familiarity, memorability, consideration and finally, action.

Social Listening: Provides Critical Insights

  • Using Social Listening, most notably conversations in forums, we can uncover raw, real insights around how patients feel, talk and handle their disease or condition day-to-day, and over time.
  • Forums provide a level of anonymity that creates a safe space in which people are more willing to discuss personal health issues in-depth.  
  • In stark contrast, mainstream social networks reveal names, personal info and are exposed to friends and family – which may not be desirable considering the sensitive nature of personal health. 
  • Insights in conversation provide grounding to strategize and develop content that truly resonates with our audiences.  
  • Uncovering insights from personal stories for insights also to helps to build trust and tell a story. 

These deep insights, paired with trusted partners like advocacy groups, are critical to creating valuable content and a digital ecosystem tailored to the target audience and our goals. 

The core of true Patient Centricity are the methods by which we learn about our audiences needs, and then communicate in ways that truly resonate with them.

Social Media, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Ads: Key to Reaching Your Target Audiences

How do we reach our target audiences? Whether via organic search (SEO), Google Ads or Social Media, content can be targeted in a variety of ways to get in front of potential patients and healthcare professionals.

With Google Ads, we have the ability to research keywords, queries and phrases that people search for in relation to our core keywords. As a simple example, someone may search for “breast cancer study” vs. “breast cancer clinical trial.” Distinctions like this can be critical to expanding reach to audiences already in the considering a trial, since they’re researching already.

Let’s not forget, our content is also assessed by social media algorithms from a “value” perspective. How valuable is our content for our target audiences? With informed content, we can leverage the unparalleled targeting capabilities of social networks to create connected, fulfilling 360 degree digital experiences – complete with engaging content and websites with simplified explanations of science, treatment and the trials. 

Websites: The Anchor of Your Digital Ecosystem

To wrap it all up into a neat package, where are our target audiences landing once they show interest in a trial? Our efforts almost always lead to a website, but we’ve seen instances where audiences are directed to:

  •, which is hard to navigate and can be very confusing.
  • Downloadable PDFs, which are not indexed by Google.
  • Corporate websites where trial information is buried amongst a ton of other information about the company.
  • Cookie-cutter template sites that provide only basic information.

When a user clicks on an ad, there’s an expectation of what they’ll see when they land on a site, and it’s best practice to meet or exceed those expectations.

Make sure to carry through insights from social listening, trial branding and content to a comprehensive website. Providing information, resources, discussion guides, screeners and trial location maps help patients to learn, talk with their HCPs and even start the enrollment process.

To summarize, we can best foster action with key messages and talking points that resonate, branding that is inviting and content that is valuable. We can reach our key audiences via search and social media.

By providing easily accessible and findable content in a 360 degree ecosystem and a comprehensive trial website, we can facilitate awareness, education and ultimately doctor-patient communication and enrollment.

*Note: With recent changes to Facebook ad targeting, a thoughtful, informed approach will become even more important. How do we determine what content and targeting needs to focus on, when we may not be able to target directly? The answer is research and insights to uncover affinities and explore unique pathways that resonate with our audiences. 

Read on for More!


Out With the Old.

Banner ads, media placements, radio ads, cookie-cutter patient websites, and complex science the average person can barely understand are still mainstays of clinical trial recruitment. 

Hundreds of thousands of dollars often go wasted, with little to show for it. This is a problem not only for the trials, but for those in charge of recruitment and trial success – and ultimately, the success of the company. 

It’s Time for Change. 

It’s critical to begin combining principles of consumer-oriented design, content creation, messaging and channel optimization with the complicated, sensitive nature of any condition. This includes breaking down the science for the average person to understand, raising awareness and educating around advancements and emerging treatments, and perhaps most importantly – transforming the look and feel of patient engagement and clinical trial awareness and recruitment to accomplish these goals. 

Exponential value can be seen when an investment is made in researching for insights in online patient conversations, developing tailored and unique messaging for the desired audience audience, being creative with design and deploying strategic, focused outreach efforts. 

New approaches to clinical trial communications are at least worth a try if 80% of trials fail to meet recruitment goals under current efforts deployed by your company, or the agencies and vendors we work with.

A Fresh Start for Trial Awareness, Education and Recruitment Content.

Pharma has a content problem. That content is just the tip of the iceberg that reveals disconnected digital ecosystems, even for those actively seeking help. Creating content that leads to a seamless digital experience for patients is key to meeting patients in their state of mind, erasing the stigma of clinical trials and attracting potential candidates in a way that is inviting, warm and forward-looking, rather than clinical, sterile or like a guinea pig in an experiment.

Drive more efficiently towards business goals with a comprehensive, connected digital-social media ecosystem featuring specialized creative content and messaging, efficient audience targeting with paid social and a mobile-accessible website that is easy to understand, accessible for the average person and focuses on the end-goal of educating and enrolling patients. 

  • Research and understand your audience with R.A.D.A.R. As a patient’s journey evolves, there are multiple points at which they are open and highly motivated – look into how someone may be living with a condition, their life and daily journey with it and leverage these points strategically.
    • Dive deep to identify what patients and caregivers need, find gaps in the information available and help to uncover the right messages, content, platforms and formats by which to deliver a fresh, new and engaging experience. 
  • Fresh Branding and Creative Design offer a new look and feel for clinical trials by transforming typically sterile, medical and scientific content into an inviting brand experience with helpful information across multiple touch-points. 
  • Ensure a Seamless Digital Experience, Upfront with a comprehensive digital-social ecosystem spanning from ads, social media and platforms like YouTube, all the way through to a website that is set up for accessibility and ease of access.
    • Ensure that website directly addresses the information from the post or ad that brought them there. This may mean landing pages and a variety of content for different objectives. 
  • Develop Unique, Relatable Content That Raises Awareness and Educates patients and their families in pragmatic and consumable ways, focusing on topics and messaging that is rooted in insights and shaped in a way that a patient, caregiver or healthcare professional can relate to. Ensure content is educational, entertaining or otherwise engaging, while prompting action.
    • Explain the benefits of studies and the science via easy to understand animations, videos and graphics. 
  • Reach and Target the right patients, caregivers, families and healthcare professionals via the unique, deep targeting capabilities of social media platforms and Google search to reach the most relevant audiences at a time when they are actively seeking information or looking to make a decision.
  • Mobilize those seeking information at a time when they are ready to take action, and speak to them in a relatable way that is sensitive to the stage of their journey.
    • Create calls-to-action and a reason for a patient, caregiver or healthcare professional to reach out. This could be after a new diagnosis, when switching treatments or when there are few treatment options available at their stage of disease. 
    • Work with trusted key opinion leaders and influencers on User Generated Content (UGC) to build trust and reach audiences in organic ways.

Clinical Trials are the lifeblood of any pharmaceutical company that is exploring new scientific pathways and developing new medicines and devices. Whether they are traditional treatments, emerging “digital therapeutics” or medical devices and technology…it’s about time we catch up to the online behavior of our audiences. 

Interested in how Digital and Social Media can help in Clinical Trials? Reach out at and learn more here: BK Digital Clinical Trial Solutions.

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