The FleishmanHillard 2015 Social Health Survey

April 7, 2015


How people care for themselves and others using social and mobile media

Which networks people use and how they use them differs greatly depending on age range as well as whether the person is looking for information about their own health or finding information as a caregiver to someone else. The charts below show the most popular networks for each use broken out by demographic. We found the following:

Social Health Survey Chart 2

Social Health Survey Chart 1

  • While Facebook is the most important network for patients looking for information on their own health, its importance drops for audiences looking for health information for others. However, its importance for the elderly drops to only 10%, likely due to the fact that they spend more time as patients vs. caregivers.
  • Interestingly, 20% of Millennials use Snapchat for their own health. As Snapchat is part of Dark Social (where content is generally private), it may be they are asking friends about things they don’t want to be public. This may show potential for health companies to engage directly as brands figure out how to appropriately use this platform.
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, as they are strong discovery and news platforms respectively, both Pinterest and Twitter were the 2nd and 3rd most popular networks for health information as patients as well as caregivers for Millennials and Gen Xers, the heaviest users of these networks in general.
  • Note that we did not include Google+ in these charts. Although many answered that they use it, anecdotal information indicates people often think of Google search when answering questions about Google+ (and usage of Google+ for the public is generally low even if membership is high).

Here are some of the other key findings. In addition, the full report is available above for download.


We also have information on Tumblr, but as it’s more of a blog platform vs. social network, we included it in the appendix as opposed to the social network analysis.

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.