Digital Transformation of The Merck Manuals


I met this week’s podcast guest at the Social Media Strategies Summit in New York City where she presented on the digital transformation of the Merck Manuals. Shawnee Brown is Associate Director, Global Social Media Strategy at Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.


Merck is a 125-year-old global leader in pharmaceuticals and medical information. In 1889 Merck began to publish Merck Manuals, a medical reference that became known as a standard in medical information among medical students and doctors. It was originally provided to med students in a textbook format and has recently been transformed into a digital resource for anyone to access around the world for free. Merck Manuals has a long-standing reputation for credible medical information. Tune in to hear how Merck is progressing through its digital transformation of Merck Manuals in a global movement to make the best medical knowledge accessible to more than 3 billion people.

Shawnee shares what kind of brand or content assets companies can create to build an affinity with consumers

On this episode you’ll discover:

  • Merck Manuals is working to close the medical knowledge gap by providing their content online and updating it every three months.
  • Merck is helping physicians and patients by providing credible information in one spot, so they don’t have to dig through 150 exabytes of information.


  • An agency was hired to help them digitize Merck Manuals creating two versions, one for professionals and one for consumers.
  • The website is hosted by Sitecore, which allows for Merck Manuals to tailor the content to user’s searches and improve usability.
  • The site was launched in less than a year with more than 10,000 multimedia assets on the website including quizzes, images, and videos making it much more interactive than a printed version could be.
  • Social media is the forefront of the transformation as it’s able to disseminate information broadly across the globe.
  • Social media allows Merck to attract a new audience and to build community with people.
  • Merck’s social channels initially promoted the textbook version in 2012 and then in 2015 they started to bring awareness to the digital Merck Manuals.
  • The strategy to promoting the digital Merck Manuals was to create a story, or a global social movement, that portrayed their new mission to provide access to health information to everyone.
  • The hashtag #sharemedknowledge builds awareness on how Merck believes access to health information should be a universal human right, and it encourages people to share about Merck Manuals.

The site provides really rich content that you can’t get from a printed book. #ShareMedKnowledge #sbeshow
Tweet: Tweet This

  • Merck aims to share content that resonates with both professionals and their consumers in the form of facts and statistics around the medical knowledge gap that they will want to re-share.
  • Merck Manual lost its affinity with the digital age but has been able to connect with medical students through their free online content and mobile app.
  • Merck is reaching out to medical students where they are on social media and tapping into their conversations.

“The goal through social is to reach them where they are.” @socialbrown #sbeshowTweet: Tweet This

  • Merck is humanizing their brand through a campaign that encourages med students to show their school spirit.

Featured On This Episode:

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P.S. Our next podcast features Tony Zayas, Director of Sales & Marketing at ProForma.Subscribe to our podcast to stay current on new episodes delivered to your inbox every Friday!