Life science vendors face a balancing act when using social media. Giving users the hard sell will bring rejection and reflect badly on the company, but a softly-softly plan might not be noticed at all. Fortunately for vendors, a survey suggests scientists are increasingly accepting of companies on Facebook ($FB) and Twitter ($TWTR).
When BioInformatics ran a survey in 2011, just 29% of respondents said they liked it when life science vendors used social media. Now, more than half of surveyed scientists are in favor of vendors participating. Similarly, the proportion opposed to life science vendors using social media has fallen. "Life scientists have a more favorable view of vendor participation in social media now than they did in 2011--and they are more likely to think that the interaction has been constructive," BioInformatics director of publications Robin Rothrock said.
The shift in sentiment clears one obstacle to reaching researchers via social media, but another, more fundamental barrier remains--most scientists aren't using Facebook and Twitter for work purposes. While almost two-thirds of respondents said they "constantly" or "frequently" used social media in their personal lives, far fewer are tapping the tools in their work. Around one-third said they are at least frequent users of social media for work.
With relatively few scientists on social media for work purposes, it is especially important not to alienate active users. Customer-generated results and testimonials from peers snagged the top two spots on the list of the type of posts that influence the purchases of life science researchers. Invitations to join a user group and comments by a "thought leader" were at the bottom of the pile, although almost one in four respondents still viewed these marketing methods as influential.
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