KEY TAKEAWAY: As pharma gets ready to explore social media, perhaps they should first ask patients/consumers if they want to engage pharma companies via social media as new research indicates that social media has a very low confidence among US adults.
Jenny, who has MS, made the mistake of looking at a couple of MS community pages on Facebook. Now everytime she goes to her Facebook feed she is bombarded with ads for a range of MS sites. “This is way too intrusive for me and I don’t want my social contacts to know that I have MS”.
The biggest threat to online health seekers is “trust in information”. There are a lot of sites out there that will automatically cookie users and use those cookies to serve up ads which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.
Can pharma leverage social media to enable patient conversations? The answer is yes, but legal people need to stay away from coffee to allow someone at pharma to talk with patients and the FDA has to better understand what patients want from pharma companies via social media.
In the course of my research I have learned that nothing is more private than a patients’ health. Using social media to engage pharma companies is a very huge step and pharma has to make sure that the step is worth it by adding value in the patient’s eyes, not marketers.
In the meantime the FDA is conducting a study on whether patients understand the risk of products in DTC ads. This is both a waste of time as most of us know that both physicians and patients don’t always understand the risk of asking for certain drugs. Fair balance has become small, complicated print that patients don’t read and can’t understand and doctors don’t have the time to explain all the potential side effects of drugs.
Social media is NOT the answer for pharma at a time when all social media marketing is tanking with stories of false metrics and extremely low organic reach. Social media is part of DTC marketing, but it’s only a very small part of the pie.