Clinical trial recruitment can be challenging and even competitive, with multiple recruiters looking for subjects for the same trial in a geographical area. Eligible patient populations are often small. Advertising might seem expensive, but we’ve found that targeted social network advertising, especially on Facebook, can be very cost-effective. Spending your ad budget smartly, with a strong foundation can pay dividends down the road.
Setting Up a Facebook Page
The first step in a successful Facebook advertising campaign is to set up a dedicated Facebook page. It is important to build a detailed and appealing page to show that you are actively recruiting. A page with only older posts will give the impression that not much is happening now. Fill your page full of photos of your facility and of happy patients working with your staff. If you can, it’s good to show images of your company’s involvement in the community. Sending a message that you care about your community, and aren’t just an anonymous corporation, can set you apart from the competition and help people feel more comfortable giving you their information.
You also need a foundation of followers. One way to do this quickly is to engage your current patients, former patients, and clinical staff to “like” the page and share it with their friends. Be sure to encourage them to leave comments and reviews about your facility and their experience. When people visit your page they will see how other patients experienced your service and positive reviews will make them more inclined to sign up and work with you. This will give you a good sized following to start, so that when you drive people to your page with advertising, they will see that you have an active following.
Once your Facebook page is set up and has a base of followers, it’s time to enrich them. What this means is posting occasionally with articles that would be of interest to your patients. Examples are articles on health habits with diabetes, tips to care for and manage your COPD, or healthy eating tips for people with IBS, giving them the information they want and that would benefit them. Your base of followers will like and share these articles, which will make your page more attractive to new visitors. An enriched page also gives you a higher relevance score in Facebook so when it’s time to start recruitment of a trial your posts will place higher in news feeds.
When it is time to recruit for a trial, it can be difficult to find subjects just by sharing information about the trial and promoting signups on your Facebook page hoping people find the information. Facebook advertising allows you to target very specific people and groups based on factors like age, gender, relationship status, location, and other people and groups that they follow. This allows you to deliver ads inviting people to your page that are the right age for your trial, in the right location, and other traits and characteristics that would indicate they have the condition that you are studying. For example, for a diabetes study, you could serve ads to people that have the right demographics for your study, that also follow the American Diabetes Association.
Facebook ad campaigns can be a very effective way to get the right people to your Facebook page and then to your enrollment landing pages. Facebook has access to information on billions of people and you can use this information to target the right people to fill your trial. We’ve set up, run, and managed successful Facebook campaigns for numerous trials. We’ve found that an investment of approximately $20 a day is required to run an effective ad campaign with the reach necessary to fill your study with qualified leads. Once you create a strong following, it’s easier to recruit for future studies around the same disease state, which is where the investment starts to pay additional dividends because you have an existing group that may qualify.
We have found that by creating an effective Facebook page, and running ads to very specific demographics, clinical research recruiters are able to fill studies faster and more efficiently.