Monday, August 8, 2011

Should facebook pages be limited to consumer facing products

I was very excited to see healthcare/pharma tips on facebook posted on Mashable, one of my favorite one-stop shops on social media. Augustine Fou, the writer of the article, offered basic advice such as create a publishing schedule and establish the right metrics. I agreed with most of his points due to their generic nature. The one point I would challenge would be “determine if your brand, drug or service is “consumer facing” — whether consumers are the ones making the purchase decisions. This factor applies more to over-the-counter products that consumers can buy themselves in stores and less to prescription drugs for which doctors are the ones writing the prescriptions. Consumers tend to go online to research products before they buy — and they want to be able to reach the manufacturers directly”.

While I agree that consumer facing brands are good candidates for utilizing facebook or other social media outlets, the real impact will come from empowering patients to discuss products and brands that are NOT “consumer facing”. For example, Sanofi hosts a facebook page promoting their products to bring awareness of diabetes to patients. Patients asking for a specific brand-name drug are far more likely to get that drug than another drug. Information on facebook pages can arm a consumer with valuable discussion points for his/her next doctor appointment; thus creating powerful influence on the physicians' willingness to prescribe.

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