Social Health Survey: Top Networks for Getting Information From Healthcare Companies

April 13, 2015

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Adam Silverstein contributed to this article.

Which social networks matter for getting information from healthcare companies?

The short answer: all of them. Each network serves a different purpose, reaching a slightly different audience by means of vastly different capabilities. If you’re looking to inspire female fitness through images, you may turn to Pinterest or Instagram. If you’re looking to pave the way to Millennial engagement through animation or video, you may find a better use for Vine or Snapchat.

The long answer is only slightly more complicated and nuanced.

According to over 500 survey respondents, ages 18 to 68+, the most popular place to look for information from the healthcare industry was unanimously Facebook. Millennials and Gen X-ers (both 44%) are more interested in Facebook content from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies than Boomers (30%) and the elderly (25%), but all ranked Facebook as the most popular network for sourcing said information. Importantly, Facebook was consistently ranked as one of the most reliable social networks, demonstrating the value of providing information through this well-established, familiar platform – though many respondents said they would still double check the information with their doctor.

SHS_networks for companies

Which social media channel finished second? YouTube. All generations agreed that this platform is their second favorite source for intel from the industry. As the network is home to a broad range of trusted educational, fitness and lifestyle channels and becoming a true “TV channel” in its own right, it’s only natural that people are looking for medical information in the same place. The next time you’re thinking of filming a patient story, physician interview or MOA animation, consider making it available on YouTube for its audience reach and built-in advantages when it comes to search.

Here’s where the generational gap becomes evident: 23% of Millennials and 21% of Gen X-ers said they commonly source pharma information from Twitter, but a negligible 5% of Boomers and 4% of the elderly agreed. Yet when viewed in terms of how many Americans this represents, about 12% of online Boomers and 10% of online elderly adults use Twitter at all (source); so roughly 40% of all plugged-in Twitter users over age 50 use the network to receive information from pharma and medical companies – a pretty significant feat.

*Google+ was in fact ranked second, garnering nods from 19% of elderly respondents, but was removed from the results as the Google+ social network was commonly confused with the Google search engine.

FleishmanHillard believes that 2015 is a turning point in how pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, in a highly regulated environment, can successfully and confidently use social media to engage their stakeholders. With the U.S. FDA issuing its clearest guidance yet – and consumers’ and physicians’ appetites larger than ever for information to guide their treatment decisions – being an authoritative, trustworthy partner in those conversations has never been more important. The organizations that plan successfully this year within this environment will be best positioned to create strong social media engagement next year. Health truly is social.

FleishmanHillard’s social health group combines the firm’s healthcare communications, digital and social media expertise. Working together closely, this team is hosting interactive workshops that share the current state of social media, where it’s headed, and how organizations can use it most effectively in an industry where compliant — yet collaborative — communication is essential.