Monday, August 24, 2015

The Irrelevance of Social Media for Pharma Marketing

The pharmaceutical industry has often been criticized for being behind the "digital curve," meaning that it lacks the expertise to fully take advantage of the Internet and social media to improve marketing and communications.

Back in 2013, I suggested that pharma was on the "Slope of Enlightenment" of the "digital" hype curve (here).

Since then, the FDA has come out with some social media guidelines (read, for example, FDA Sets Up a Roadblock for Branded Rx Promotional Tweets and Drug Industry Rips Into FDA Over Social Media Guidelines) and I sense that pharma has moved along the curve, but the curve itself - which I am now calling the Social Media (SM) Hype Curve - has changed and it looks something like this:

Click on image for an enlarged view.
What do I mean by "Slow Slide Into Irrelevance?"

Well, for one thing, I don't hear much call for FDA to issue more social media guidance although some lawmakers are pushing for the FDA to legitimize the "one-click" rule (read, for example, House Bill Would Give FDA 18 Months to Finalize "One-Click Rule" Guidance). That bill, however, is not likely to make it into law.

Also, although the use of social media by the pharma industry is becoming commonplace, marketers have all but given up on using it for promotion of products. And when they do, they are called out for it immediately by the FDA (read, for example, Kim Kardashian Instagram post draws FDA warning).

The hype around social media is losing steam but hype around mobile is increasing. I'm not sure where pharma is on that chart right now - maybe at the "Peak of Inflated Expectations."


  1. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Anonymous10:25 AM

    Nice summary. FDA "guidance" on social media is clear - treat it like any other medium. Throw the kitchen sink at it for safety and indication. If you can't, find something else to do. Seriously, FDA isn't going to tell industry anything that it already doesn't know. Might as well create unbranded posts and link out to fully branded pieces (PDFs, websites, videos). It can be done, just not conveniently.


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