Pharma should avoid Facebook at all costs

KEY TAKEAWAY: Facebook’s objective was to keep users addicted to social media as much as possible, but now that Facebook has become nothing but a media company they don’t want to play by the same rules as other media companies.  The risks of advertising on Facebook are too great while the rewards are too few.

In the early days of social media, and Facebook, both social media experts and Facebook told the marketers they “had to be on Facebook”.  Then organic reach dropped to below 1% and Facebook told us again that we had to be on the site as advertisers.  Brands flocked to social media, but Facebook said that it had messed up more ad metrics than previously thought, potentially eroding its trust and relationship with marketers and publishers.  The social network said in a blog postmiscalculated it the number of completed video views, the total organic reach for business Pages and the amount of time spent with Instant Articles.

 Time and time again Facebook has undermined its credibility by making claims that are easily proven to be false, and then defended these claims with statements that are absurd.   It was reported, for example,  that Facebook was claiming to reach 41 million Americans between the ages of 18-24. If Facebook reached every American between 18 and 24 they’d still be 10 million short. There are only 31 million of them.

Even P&G, that huge marketing powerhouse, is pulling back on Facebook.  According to the Wall Street JournalProcter & Gamble Co., the biggest advertising spender in the world, will move away from advertising on Facebook Inc. that targets specific consumers after deciding the practice has limited effectiveness”.

When Congress wanted to talk with social media executives they sent their lawyers instead.  In a speech on Wednesday, Senator Franken offered up a damning critique of the companies, charging them with having unchecked influence that even they don’t know how to control. “These companies may not be up to the challenge that they’ve created for themselves,” he said.

So how can pharma really use Facebook and be confident that their posts are not going to be avoided or used in other fake news?   When it comes down to it the best way to increase the effectiveness of your digital ads is through better creative based on user studies and testing.

The social media boat sailed a long time, largely without pharma.  Their fears over social media use may have been too extreme, but in the end their fear is justified for another reason.