Social media is not going to save DTC marketing

pharma-social-e1327686232762-290x250If you search the Web you’re going to find a lot of statistics on social media and health, but what you’re not going to find is how and why people are using social media for health.  The truth is we really don’t know how consumers are using social media when it comes to making health choices. There is a lot of work, research, to be done, but according to Kelton only 6% of visits to a pharma site were from social media.  However, here are some reasons to even question that data point.

From in depth research with consumers I have learned that the use of social media and healthcare varies by health condition and stage in treatment.  For example, someone who has been diagnosed with a chronic health problem may use social media to learn about alternative treatments while a caregiver may use social media to listen to what others are saying about resources for those under their care.  The key takeaway, however is that social media may or may not play a role in the collection of healthcare information.

When consumers use social media, especially Facebook, they are exposing their information needs to the online community.  I am an avid biker and lover of jazz so I continually see ads on my facebook page for biking products and music.  Privacy, especially when it comes to health, is a major concern for patients.  To them, it’s tiresome sort out credible health information from the garbage.  While WebMD is the number one online site for health information consumers will go to more than one site measured by the seriousness of their health condition.

Should DTC marketers invest in a social media marketing strategy?  The answer to that lies in doing research with your audience.  We cannot and should not just say social media is the answer for DTC marketing.