PharmExec Blog

Social Media and Healthcare Consumers: A Report

In the past decade, social networking has changed the way most of us live our day-to-day lives. So how has it affected pharma’s relationship with consumers, and vice versa? A recent report from ROI Research grants a glimpse into this changing relationship.

Social networking is no longer something people (patients, healthcare providers, physicians) are merely talking about, or something that’s part of our future. It’s something people are participating in today — right now — as you read this.

A recent report from ROI Research, Inc. — “S-Net (The Impact of Social Media)” — highlights the behavior of 3,000 social media users across 11 consumer categories, including healthcare/pharmaceutical, benchmarking how buyers use social networking websites to get advice on what to purchase, give advice on companies/products, and post content specific to various industries.

The information was collected via a 30-minute online survey from US respondents who access at least one social network regularly. The objective of the study was to determine how various segments of users participate with social networks in their daily lives, specifically with regard to the purchase process for different types of products and in relation to other media channels.

Of the 3,000 survey respondents, 1,888 made a healthcare/pharma purchase in the six months prior to taking the survey. Of those, 441 completed the healthcare pharma section of the survey. The following data, results, and percentages are based on those 441 participants.

Of those 441 participants, 12 percent of respondents follow at least one healthcare/pharma company on either Facebook or Twitter. 12 percent said they discuss pharma/healthcare on social networking sites less than once a month and only 5 percent said they discuss those issues once a week or more. Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents, when they do discuss pharma/healthcare issues, are seeking advice on what to purchase. Other popular reasons for pharma-related talk on social media sites include price comparison (34 percent), current products/releases (32 percent), giving advice (32 percent), and talking about sales or specials (31 percent). Surprisingly, connecting with customer service was the least popular reason for discussing pharma/healthcare online, with only 15 percent of those surveyed citing this as their reason.

Of those who responded to the pharma section of the survey, 33 percent said they are interested in receiving printable coupons from healthcare providers, pharma brands or retailers through social networking sites; 25 percent would like notification of sales or special deals; 23 percent would like information about contests or sweepstakes, and 21 percent would be interested in new product announcements.

However, 43 percent of respondents indicated that they would like to be contacted once a month or less, while only 4 percent would like to be contacted once a day.

Clearly, consumers want healthcare to be part of their online world — but on their own terms, in a manner and frequency they determine, and with participation remaining primarily consumer-driven.

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