Dear FDA: Social media guidelines too late

pharma social media too latePOST SUMMARY: While the majority of pharma companies await social media marketing guidelines, consumers are pretty much ignoring brands on the channel.  This means that biopharma marketers are going to have to work extra hard to make social media a viable channel to reach patients and consumers.

Facebook is, by far, the number one social media platform, but all is not well in Facebook land. Facebook is in the process of slashing brands’ “organic page reach” to just 1 or 2 percent. That means only a tiny fraction of the people who have liked a business on Facebook will see each of its posts in their news feed, unless that company pays Facebook for wider promotion.  Why is this happening?   People don’t really like seeing a bunch of ads in their news feed. They like seeing updates from friends and family, funny YouTube videos, and maybe some news stories about topics they’re interested in.   So if pharma is going to participate in social media they need an in depth understanding of what their audience wants to see.


Generally, digital and social media have lower media costs and higher production costs relative to TV and with pharma companies under pressure to stay profitable DTC marketers are going to have to change slices of the budget pie to ensure digital marketing, and social media, are relevant.

The other reason that Facebook is doing this is so that they can “end the free ride” for brands.  Companies on Facebook will have to pay or be pointless.  So from a strategic point-of-view is Facebook, or any social media channel, worth pharma’s effort?  There is no one blanket answer to that question.  Pharma marketers are going to have to do a lot of research and think about ways to reach consumers debating treatment options.  They also need to add the “privacy issue” to the equation as users may not want friends to know they liked a page on depression.

facebook demographics

2 thoughts on “Dear FDA: Social media guidelines too late

  1. I’m afraid I disagree. All brands and industries face a challenge over how to increase their reach on Facebook – not just Pharma. But the big picture hasn’t changed. Social media has completely changed the rules of marketing, and companies that are not participating lose out. Social media is not going away simply because Facebook is making companies pay for reach!

  2. Miriam: I’m not suggesting that brands don’t participate in social media. What I am saying is that for 99% of brands consumers don’t have the time for social relationships. How many brands in your fridge do you really want to have a social relationship with? The change in organic reach means that brands are going to view social media as just another channel competing for ad dollars.

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