Social media is going through its product life-cycle and reinventing itself to stay relevant. Lilly’s terrible experience on Twitter is a clear message to pharma to ignore social media, which has become a bulletin board for harmful health misinformation.
TikTok is full of influencers showing off their stunning before-and-after shots and their weight loss after using the new class of weight loss drugs, but too many patients see this as a “quick fix” without the possible downsides.
Suppose you’re on Facebook or Instagram, and Meta has determined you may be interested in cancer treatments. In that case, you may have seen an ad for a dangerous cancer treatment, or one of the 20 or so others recently running from the CHIPSA hospital in Mexico near the US border, all of which are publicly listed in Meta’s Ad Library. They are part of a pattern on Facebook of ads that make misleading or false health claims targeted at cancer patients.
A Mediabistro survey showed that social networks influence more than 40% of people’s health choices. Tik-Tok, Instagram, and other social media channels may soon be overwhelmed with pharma companies’ content, but is it a good idea?
SUMMARY: The health information on Facebook is a danger to anyone who reads it. Experiences from current patients do provide some context but too often contain lousy advice. Facebook should post a warning on every page that deals with health issues that informs people that their physician is still their best source of information.
QUICK READ: A two-month analysis of social media and prescription drugs found the number one reason online health seekers use social media is to share and ask questions about medication side effects. I also found an abundance of medication misinformation based on personal experiences and hearsay.
KEY TAKEAWAY: According to a 2018 study from the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of American adults turn to Facebook for news, and a lot of people belong to Facebook groups for specific health conditions, but I have found an abundance of false information. This represents an opportunity for pharma, but they need to align processes around online health seeker needs.
KEY POINT: According to Facebook a lot of people join health groups on the social site to share experiences and ask questions. Facebook announced Tuesday that it wants to create a new type of community: health support groups in which people can even ask questions anonymously. Facebook is doing this to get more online digital dollars, but DTC marketers should be careful.