Marketing in the Age of Person-Centric Healthcare

Healthcare is undergoing a transformation. Consumers want to make informed choices and take control of their lives, and pharma companies must be ready to meet their needs. This means building a new healthcare ecosystem that places the patient at its center, with the “person” fully engaged in his or her own healthcare. But with this move to person-centric healthcare, payers and providers are no longer the main decision makers.

So what does this mean for today’s marketers?

Ogilvy CommonHealth and OgilvyRED held the Worldwide Marketing Summit to address this question. Joined by some of the industry’s foremost thought leaders, the event explored the issues and challenges faced in modern marketing for the healthcare industry.

In this webinar, Ritesh Patel EVP and Chief Digital Officer at Ogilvy CommonHealth, and Peter Fasano, Global Consulting Principal of Digital Strategy at OgilvyRED, share key takeaways from the event and discuss:

  • Where marketing is failing to address healthcare concerns
  • How “big data” is a change-driver for a new healthcare ecosystem
  • New opportunities for predictive and preventative medical intervention
  • Impact of digital healthcare on patient privacy

See slides and a recording of the webinar below.

Marketing in the Age of Person-centric Healthcare from Social@Ogilvy

Marketing in the Age of Person-centric Healthcare 10-2-15 from Social@Ogilvy

Understanding the New Age of Person-Centric Healthcare

In this digital age, it is important to understand that healthcare is undergoing a transformation. Consumers are looking to make informed choices and take control of their lives. Therefore, pharma companies should aim to build a new healthcare ecosystem that places the patient at its center, with the “person” fully engaged in his or her own healthcare.

One way to do so is marketing through social. Not only does it have a powerful amplifying effect on perceptions about a brand, but it also helps build genuine relationships with its audience.

Establishing a presence on social media allows pharma companies to engage in genuine, meaningful conversations with their audience, be it about a health crisis their audience is facing or the companies’ corporate reputation. The key is to show the audience that you are receptive and responsive, and engagement in social media will be able to drive business value.

In a recent webinar on Pharma In Social, we shared six tips on how to stand out from the crowd as a healthcare brand on social media:

Pharma in Social 6 tips to succeed

In September, Ogilvy CommonHealth will be holding an event that addresses the issues and challenges faced in modern marketing for the healthcare industry. A main focus of the event is a discussion around “Big data”, a topic at the heart of the program, which offers the opportunity for predictive and preventive medical intervention like never before‒but at what price to patient privacy?

Join us on September 24 at the Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide Marketing Summit and take part in the important ongoing debates around these key issues.

Pharma In Social: How To Succeed

The fast-moving pace of social media, and the powerful amplifying effect that it can have on perceptions about a brand, means that even for the bravest of businesses it can be a daunting space. And for pharma companies the added regulatory boundaries and compliance constraints do not always go hand-in-hand with the norms of social media. But that is no reason to stay away from the game.

While there is evidence of ‘social anxiety’ across the global pharma industry, many organisations are getting involved in the online conversation. Ogilvy CommonHealth has conducted an analysis of these brands to understand the landscape and identify the trends and best practices that are driving pharma companies’ success in social media.

In the presentation below, we share the results of the study, answering the questions:

  • What is the landscape and how has it changed?
  • Who are the top performers and why?
  • What are the best practices?

Connecting The Dots: Which pharma companies are succeeding in the social media space? from Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide

Social Health Check #8

Brought to you by our New York, London and Hong Kong Social@Ogilvy teams, this is our monthly snapshot of the latest news and trends in healthcare social media. The aim is to inspire ideas, discussion and fresh thinking in this challenging yet ever exciting field.

Happy Birthday to the Healthcare Hashtag Project

Social Health Check would like to wish a happy third birthday to the Healthcare Hashtag Project  this month. This comprehensive listing of healthcare-related Twitter hashtags is one of the most indispensable sites for communicators—it has something to offer to everyone. Drafting tweets for your client’s disease awareness campaign? Use the Hashtag Project to look up popular hashtags for a particular illness. It can tell you the most important online influencers associated with that disease too. Writing coverage reports about a medical meeting? The Hashtag Project provides metrics on usage over time. Just getting started on Twitter and trying to figure out what it’s all about? Use the Hashtag Project’s directory of upcoming tweet chats. Pick a topic of interest and dive in! It’s never been easier to join the conversation.

#Stoptober challenge kicks off

217,742 people are currently taking part in “Stoptober” – a UK challenge to stop smoking for 28 days this month. The argument to take part is compelling: the NHS initiative claims you are five times more likely to stay smoke free after completing the challenge. The program is supported by a strong social media presence – Twitter  acts as the community hub and provides much-needed tips and advice, and a playlist on Spotify aims to keep you motivated with inspirational songs. Participants are invited to tweet a song with the hashtag #stopify to add a track to the list.

A recent study from the University of Georgia in the USA found that those who engage in health specific social networking actually found it easier to quit smoking, so this program and similar initiatives demonstrate what a community of people can achieve when united online over a designated time period to fight conditions such as addiction. This is a great case study for planning similar initiatives for other conditions.

Content marketing: “Your customers don’t care about you…”

According to Forbes, content marketing will be “bigger than ever” in 2014 – and this applies to pharma as well. Pharma has a long heritage in producing high quality content – detail aids, MOA videos, monographs, fact sheets, infographics – but much of it is too brand focused to satisfy the needs of today’s digital doctor and e-patient. As Joe Pullizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute says “Your customers don’t care about you, your products, your services…they care about themselves, their wants and their needs. Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you.” A great example is J&J’s – a website with enormous breadth and depth of un-branded content on pregnancy and childcare that received more than 18 million visitors in the past 30 days. The need for developing and publishing engaging content becomes ever more important as stakeholders increasingly start their search for health information on social networks and share the best content with their community. All this might make pharma marketers scratch their heads and wonder, “How will we measure the ROI?” Building credibility, trust and engagement through publishing quality content can in the long term convert into increased sales. The less tangible results of enhanced reputation, customer loyalty and engagement may be difficult to measure, but may end up being of equal value.

#KeepWatching Meningitis

68% of parents believe that vaccinations protect their children against all strains of meningitis. 100% of parents should know that some strains of meningitis are not covered by vaccinations, thus the Meningitis Research Foundation, along with the Meningitis Trust, Meningitis UK and Novartis launched their #KeepWatching campaign. Incorporating social media and advertising, this disease awareness around vaccination campaign had the overall objective of debunking myths about vaccination. Mums with small infants were specifically targeted and Facebook was a major campaign tool as 93% of the target audience has an account.

The Facebook page has personal case studies, a quiz, and ‘About Meningitis’ facts. Another interesting feature of the campaign is the use of 10 influential bloggers, or ‘campaign ambassadors’ as they were known. But the centre piece of the campaign is an emotive video originally screened at parent-and-baby events at Picturehouse cinemas in the UK.

To date, the campaign has reached an audience of over 31 million, generated over 66,000 views on Youtube and gained 15,000 Facebook ‘likes’. What really makes it distinctive though, is its variety of different social media platforms and its integration of online and offline components that effectively engaged with the target audience. Definitely something to think about for future campaigns.

Like to hear more? Get in touch ( to discuss all things healthcare social media.


Social Health Check #7

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Brought to you by our New York, London and Hong Kong Social@Ogilvy teams, this is our monthly snapshot of the latest news and trends in healthcare social media. The aim is to inspire ideas, discussion and fresh thinking in this challenging yet ever exciting field.

Crowd funding medical research is a crowd-funding website. Think Kickstarter for movie projects or new types of shoes, but instead of funding an art piece or a new watch, you’re crowd funding different types of medical research in areas such as women’s health, lung cancer and leukemia.

Users are invited to browse pre-vetted projects or health categories and pick the cause that matters most to them. They then choose a donation amount (small or large) and hit the donate button. Traditionally, funding for medical research projects relied on grants, but this enables members of the public to be a part of the crucial research phase and invest in the future of our health.

At the moment, projects on the site come from Universities or Research Centers, and there is much potential for leveraging the platform for disease awareness campaigns or social movements in health.


“Human stories of hope and survival from across the globe” is the theme of a new campaign from Idis Pharma to raise awareness of their Managed Access Program, which helps facilitate access to treatment outside of traditional commercial or clinical trial settings. Compelling videos from around the world are promoted via a new Twitter handle (@idis_pharma) and hashtag (#ididthiswithidis).

The campaign was announced via promoted tweets in June and already the @idis_pharma has gained more than 1,000 followers. It will be interesting to see how the campaign evolves and how Idis engages with followers beyond broadcasting new video content.

Social Media Is Getting Old

By all accounts, millennials are the leading demographic for online activity, and participation drops as age increases. But don’t count out senior citizens from your social media planning just yet. Last year seniors passed the 50 percent mark meaning that now the majority of American adults age 65 and older are online.

Of the connected seniors, 70 percent go online daily. And although wired seniors still show a strong preference for email (91 percent of them use it), more than a third are using social networking sites. (They grew up writing telegrams so Twitter is a natural fit, right?) A campaign that invited younger influencers to email their grandparents about joining a social media event could be a great way for a brand to pull more seniors into its fray.

Weight management

Managing your weight is front of mind for many people – for health reasons or simply to feel good. The Chinese University of Hong Kong developed the first ever personalized iOS/Android app and website to serve this need: “My Wellness Tracker HK,” which includes tailored information according to the unique food culture of Hong Kong.

The app, based on entries made by the user, sends gentle reminders to provide suggestions on diet, exercise, water intake and even sleep pattern. The app also tracks the user’s data and creates charts for self-monitoring or as a reference to further optimize their weight management plan with the help of a medical professional. The mechanisms in the app for collecting data and serving personalized content could be applied to the management of many other health conditions to help with compliance – a major global issue in healthcare.

Health communities = transforming clinical research?

Health communities are growing in popularity as a way for patients to share their experiences with each other – and with researchers and pharma companies.

According to Damon Centola, in a recent academic paper in Circulation, both open social communities (Twitter and Facebook) and intentionally created communities (such as Patients Like Me) are increasingly being used to design and implement scientific studies of health behavior. Open social communities can provide observational data on millions of interactions to get a sense of population based perceptions of health issues and provide insight on messaging.

As noted in last month’s Social Health Check, Twitter and Everyday Health are already using health tweets to identify potential outbreaks and guiding people to appropriate information.  Researchers can also use social networks as health behavior “laboratories” to overcome many of the limitations of traditional research approaches.  Social networks provide access to large populations that would be impossible or prohibitively expensive with traditional observational studies.

Patients Like Me has almost 200,000 patient members, and is regularly used as a basis for clinical research – the number of peer-review papers based on their community data currently stands at 29.  The community has also signed a deal with InVentiv Health in order to help speed up clinical trial recruitment for pharma companies.  Other benefits of social communities as research labs are that interactions can be measured precisely, and are likely to be more natural than those viewed in a traditional research setting.

Finally, by creating bespoke social networks to assess or test specific approaches, investigators can ensure structural control and help them understand how social influences can change health behavior.  In his article Dr Centola cites a compelling example of an experimental community created specifically to study how social networks influence health, which found that positive health behaviors spread quicker and wider in clustered networks, and long term engagement was reinforced if signals were sent from multiple friends.

Although he acknowledges that potential issues of privacy and informed consent need to be considered, Dr Centola highlights there are a variety of opportunities to conduct randomized trials in social communities.  Patients Like Me and other communities like Health Unlocked, already offer data to researchers and pharma companies but there may be a new wave of multimodal traditional and social research informing our future approaches to health behavior.

The Social Health Check would like to thank Jen Hubbard for her contribution to the blog post this month.

Like to hear more? Get in touch to discuss all things healthcare social media.


Social Health Check #6

Brought to you by our New York, London and Hong Kong Social@Ogilvy teams, this is our monthly snapshot of the latest news and trends in healthcare social media. The aim is to inspire ideas, discussion and fresh thinking in this challenging yet ever exciting field.

Who says science can’t be fun? 

Roche’s Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) unit has developed a series of four animations that explain glycoengineering technology, stem cell research and their drug discovery model. Surprisingly the animations are done in house by the pRED team of scientists and communicators, and they have been published in a video series on YouTube.  The videos have received nearly 15,000 views, with very positive comments from viewers. This is a great example of translating highly complex scientific information into fun and accessible visuals that become highly shareable content pieces in social media.

(RED) against AIDS

(RED) are leaders when it comes to using the social web in their fight against AIDS. Earlier this month, they partnered with Mashable to challenge people across the globe to help set the world record for the most Vine videos produced for a social cause. Users were asked to create a video and share it with the hashtag #REDworldrecord. A world record was set, and most importantly, the message of working towards an AIDS free generation was spread.

(RED) are now continuing their efforts in a partnership with Johnson & Johnson with the SHARE (RED), SAVE LIVES campaign, which prompts the viewer to either like, tweet, or pin an infographic that communicates the reduction in the number of HIV infections from 2003 to 2013, and their aim of reducing this to 0 in 2015. For each like, tweet, or pin, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, up to a total of $100,000. With each engagement, more and more viewers are exposed to the infographic, spreading the information in a unique, visible, and inherently shareable way.

Real-time marketing in healthcare

Social media listening gives us access to real-time data from patients and caregivers across the globe. The act of gathering that data to uncover insights and behavioral patterns is indispensable when planning communication activities, but those brands that listen actively and embrace real-time marketing will break new ground by engaging with their audience within a relevant context. Twitter and Everyday Heath are doing just that with a partnership to deliver public health alerts and sell ad packages related to health topics. They will monitor 2 million health-related daily tweets in the US to identify any peaks in mentions that suggest potential health outbreaks. Once the outbreak is identified, promoted tweets and hashtags that are geo-targeted can then alert people and get them the right healthcare information. It all comes down to being able to target the patient in a specific and personalized way based on what the patient is experiencing in that precise moment.

Finding your match online

OK Cupid, eHarmony and all serve as platforms allowing users to privately pre-screen potential romantic relationships through the web. Now that we’re going online to search for romance, why not pay equally close attention when searching for a Rheumatologist? is a site that uses social tools to help patients and doctors connect in their local area. Receiving over 13 million unique visits per month, the site allows patients to provide reviews of doctors based on their personal experience, and to tweet about who they’ve found. The ‘review’ functionality is a feature we have been accustomed to with e-commerce sites and demonstrates the importance of reputation management through effective social customer service.

#Health on Facebook

The newly introduced Facebook hashtags add a layer of opportunity for healthcare communicators. Upon typing #health in the search bar, or clicking on a hashtag within a post or comment, you can already see posts from friends, brands or people with public profiles.  These hashtags enable brands to discover conversations in real-time, and in healthcare, this means being able to provide a scientifically accurate and credible voice in the conversation. As reported in our recent Facebook POV, it isn’t possible to view trending topics in real-time just yet, but health brands should be studying hashtags to learn which ones are used by their target audience when talking about their condition and treatments to plan how to get involved in those conversations and add value.

Vine is taking off

Vine, the video app that was introduced by Twitter in January 2013, has seen a meteoric rise in uptake.  It is the second most popular free download in the App Store, and clocked 13 million users at the beginning of this month – just before it launched the Android version. Consumer brands have been quick to get in on the act, but how can pharma use this new technology?  A few big pharma companies have registered profiles in Vine, but only Boehringer Ingelheim, a recognized early adopter in social media, and AstraZeneca US, have posted Vines at the time of writing.  Users have embraced Vine because of its immediacy – the videos are a mere 6-second loop, and they are uploaded in real time with minimal editing functionality.  This means a Vine video cannot be created, submitted for medical, legal and regulatory approval and then uploaded at a later date. But this does not have to be an insurmountable barrier for pharma companies.  With internal buy in and careful planning, Vines can be created to maximize events – capturing video clips of a busy congress center and crowds attending a symposium.  Animation stills or visuals from disease awareness material can be turned into an interesting looped video that is easily shared.  Although the “rough and ready” quality of Vines is not necessarily in line with the polished material normally produced by pharma companies, it does show a personable and human touch – which is a key to social media success.  It will be interesting to see which companies will use this in the future.

The Social Health Check would like to thank Jen Hubbard and Allison Day for their contribution to the blog post this month.

Like to hear more? Get in touch to discuss all things healthcare social media.

Social Health Check #5

Brought to you by our New York, London and Hong Kong Social@Ogilvy teams, this is our monthly snapshot of the latest news and trends in healthcare social media. The aim is to inspire ideas, discussion and fresh thinking in this challenging yet ever exciting field.

YouTube vs. Twitter

A recent survey of healthcare communicators found that more consider YouTube as an acceptable medium for their brands (68%) than Twitter (42%). The authors of the study, which was published in the most recent Journal of Communication in Health Care, suggest marketers are less comfortable using more conversational platforms (like Twitter) because clear FDA guidance on the use of social media is lacking. In fact, the same survey found that just 8 percent said the FDA was doing an adequate job managing the use of social media. Although the FDA is under pressure to issue guidelines by July 2014, it’s anybody’s guess if they actually will. In the meantime, many hospitals, drug companies and health systems have issued their own internal policies. has compiled some guidelines.

LinkedIn for healthcare professionals

LinkedIn is a platform that has seen a boom in the B2B space, and with people using the platform increasingly for education and self-improvement; it is an environment that has much potential for marketing to healthcare professionals.

LinkedIn Groups provide an opportunity to unite healthcare professionals to share ideas, debate, learn and make connections – especially as professionals are navigating the platform to talk shop.

GE is often seen as a leader in using new platforms or those platforms in evolution to build meaningful relationships with their customers and influencers, and they have been making great steps to use LinkedIn groups effectively.

This presents a great opportunity for healthcare marketers to take the first step into this environment and build a community of engaged HCPs who want to join in the professional conversation.

GPs in the UK using social

The Royal College of General Practitioners has issued the first Social Media Highway Code; guidelines to assist GPs in using social media for personal and professional purposes.  It contains 10 tips which aim to encourage and reassure older doctors taking the first steps in using social media, and to advise younger doctors, who have been active in using social media in their personal lives, how to maintain professional standards.  Refreshingly, tip number 10 is “Test out Innovative Ideas, Learn from Mistakes and Have Fun!” This is part of a wider move within the UK National Health Service to embrace social media, including a weekly Tweetchat discussing how the NHS can use social media to benefit patients and staff (#nhssm).

Localizing digital health for China

According to research, China became the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical market in 2010. Sales of medicines are expected to reach $110 billion dollars (86 billion euros) by 2015. There are clear opportunities for healthcare companies to engage and educate consumers on new treatments available to them, but they need to be reached where the locals are frequenting, including native Chinese social channels like Sina Weibo.

Sina Weibo is a Chinese micro blogging site with similar features to the popular U.S. social networking platform Twitter. We’ve seen some companies like GE Healthcare use Sina Weibo for the global #GetFit cancer awareness campaign along with consumer good brands like McDonald’s and Dove. However, those are some of the few examples that we’ve seen for this industry. Have you seen any companies utilizing Sina Weibo for a China specific healthcare campaign?

Digital innovation in healthcare

It’s amazing to see how the healthcare industry has plugged into the digital world. In previous years, there was no mistake in saying that healthcare was behind the digital and social media wave. The headlines would say it all with phrases like “Pharma Stuck in a Digital Timewarp!” and “The Real Reasons Why Pharma Fumbles in Social Media.”

Not anymore. We’ve seen how pharma has used social media and digital technologies in the traditional sense with initiatives like the first pharma-sponsored tweet up from AstraZeneca and then taken it to the next level with iPads for doctors, mHealth initiatives in hospitals, etc. What is interesting to see now is healthcare marketers are moving away from dwelling on the technology  as the immediate focus, and instead looking at health system constraints that could be addressed by the technology. This is where we’ll see the transformation of initiatives like ‘mHealth’ to just ‘health’. Are there other initiatives that you’ve seen showcasing this shift from the traditional social media marketing to solving real problems?

Like to hear more? Get in touch to discuss all things healthcare social media.

Social Health Check #4

Brought to you by our New York, London and Hong Kong Social@Ogilvy teams, this is our monthly snapshot of the latest news and trends in healthcare social media. The aim is to inspire ideas, discussion and fresh thinking in this challenging yet ever exciting field.

Seniors on Social

According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the number of seniors (over 65) using social media now stands at 32%, with the highest concentration on Facebook. Seniors are taking it upon themselves to train and learn how to navigate these new platforms, and as a result, they are experiencing health benefits.  Using these new tools is said to help their cognitive abilities and confidence, especially when they are stimulated by online games and getting back in touch with old friends. They are also becoming more involved in finding support when it comes to health, as well as using online resources to do their own research. Gaming and social media is therefore a key area for pharmaceutical companies and agencies to explore when targeting this demographic, and it is a group that now cannot be discounted as not being sufficiently tech savvy.

Using Social to Reduce Health Costs

Can social media help reduce health care costs? If you’ve ever shopped around before a health or surgical procedure, you probably discovered that cost information is difficult to find. But a new crop of websites aiming to bring more transparency to medical expenses is now popping up. FAIR Health, a national non-profit, has built a database with billions of medical records that provides cost estimates for procedures by zip code. Healthcare Blue Book offers a similar service that’s available as a mobile app. Another outlet,, has tapped the power of crowdsourcing by inviting users to anonymously report what they paid for medical procedures and where the care was provided. Whether you have a high deductible health care plan, a coinsurance arrangement, or lack coverage altogether, it’s finally getting easier to shop around for a competitive price.

 “Shazam” the flu away

This past flu season, Sanofi Pasteur ran its annual PR and advertising campaign to bring awareness to their Fluzone Intradermal influenza vaccine. However, this year they added another element to the cause: Shazam. The pharma brand applied the audio-detection technology to their adverts allowing consumers to find locations for where they could get the new shot. The result? More than 100,000 people used the app. As more consumers are becoming tech savvy its important to review the audience to gauge other means to bring awareness to your product / offering.

Five tech changes to healthcare in Asia

Frost & Sullivan provided 5 tech developments they foresee changing healthcare in Asia over the next decade. Along with cloud computing, electronic medical records – which some Asian countries have showed a willingness to share a range of information regarding their health – they see social media growth as the next big thing. With innovations potentially growing the pharma industry to $55bil in countries like India, there is a need for healthcare marketers to understand the importance of social media engagement, including the role of online portals, live chats, forums and panels etc. as a means to exchange information with e-patients.

Connecting like-patients

Many of us would not book a hotel before checking TripAdvisor – will we soon take a similar approach to prescription medicines?  A new health social network has been launched, to connect people (anonymously) with others who share the same symptoms.  HealthKeep allows users to upload symptoms, medications and their doctor’s details, and create a medical timeline tracking their condition.  Members can also ask other patients for their opinion of prescription medicines.  This reflects the growing trend for patients using social media to seek information on health topics, and specifically prescription medicines.  A study by Klick Health in 2012 found that around 25% of people using social media for health activities look for reviews of prescription medicines.  This has important implications for pharma companies – on the positive side social media provides a rich source of information on real life experience of medications – however the burden of pharmacovigilance is a downside yet to be resolved.

Like to hear more? Get in touch to discuss all things healthcare social media.

Social Health Check #3

Brought to you by our New York, London and Hong Kong Social@Ogilvy teams, this is our monthly snapshot of the latest news and trends in healthcare social media. The aim is to inspire ideas, discussion and fresh thinking in this challenging yet ever exciting field.

Genetic Data + Gaming = Cancer Treatments

What do you get when you put geneticists, Google, Facebook, gamers and mobile specialists in a room together for 48 hours?  Cancer Research UK’s Gamejam! The Gamejam aims to develop a fun, social game so that consumers can help scientists analyze millions of pieces of genetic information that can point to potential new cancer treatments. At the end of the 2-day Gamejam, developers had produced 9 complete games and 12 prototypes for testing, and one game will go into production.  You can follow the progress in Cancer Research UK’s Science Blog.


Give pharma brands a voice

“Cinnamon rolls are good. Cinnamon rolls followed by #TUMSRolls are perfection.” It’s easy to imagine some greasy-fingered staffer tapping out this message for @TUMStweets, the twitter account of GlaxoSmithKline’s antacid. And perhaps this human touch helps explain why the brand has nearly 9,000 Twitter followers. “Person to person communication is the essence of social sharing. Voice and tone is what engages people,” explains Chris Cullmann, a digital strategist with Ogilvy CommonHealth. Of course it would be inappropriate to enliven most prescription brands’ feeds with such breezy personas. But there are other personalities that pharma companies can adopt online—health mentor, trusted expert, compassionate friend. Letting KOLs tweet under their own name and enlisting celebrities to speak about campaigns are other ways that pharma companies can use social media in a way that is more truly social.


Grouping Health Discussions on Facebook

There are a number of changes to Facebook’s news feed, namely more feeds and control, larger photos and mobile consistency. One in particular that is rumored to happen is the integration of the hashtag feature. This feature, similar to Twitter’s hashtag, would index like-conversations into trending topics. While this does open up regulatory issues, with the new graph search, this also opens up Facebook consumer discussions to healthcare marketers and can prove useful in understanding how they discuss health issues on the platform.

Global Mom Relay

A global online relay was started on March 8th and will last for 60 days with an aim to help improve the health of mothers and children all over the world.  Mothers will unite online to share stories of inspiration and motherhood, as well as offer advice.  Everyone is encouraged to post a comment to join in the conversation, and every time a story is shared via Facebook or Twitter, a donation of $5 is automatically made to one of four relevant causes. The Relay was created by the United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenter, The Huffington Post, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s a great example of using social media to break down geographical and social barriers to unite people and fight for an important cause, as well as inspiring and educating people around the world.

Bring Your Cigarette Pack to Life

Health warning: This pack of cigarettes will erupt in a puff of smoke!   On No Smoking Day, UK smokers who “Blipped” their packet of cigarettes saw it disappear in a cloud of digital smoke.  The British Heart Foundation rolled out a campaign with Blippar to show smokers how much money they could save by giving up the habit.  The Blippar code transformed the standard government warning on each pack of cigarettes into images of what smokers could buy instead of cigarettes.  It is the first time the technology was used in a health campaign and it was anticipated that the “wow” factor will encourage smokers to share it with other smokers.

Here’s a compelling campaign by Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok titled Smoking Kid, which is part of our Best of Ogilvy Volume 4 collection.


Interactive Storytelling Mobile apps can take the traditional storytelling and make it more interactive. For healthcare, they can help consumers live a healthier life. With mobile phones now the No. 1 device for consuming media for many consumers in Asia Pacific, it is increasingly important for brands in Asia to tap into health & wellness apps to engage with customers. Of course, regulation is important but if done strategically, the potential is endless: from facilitating collaboration among physicians, resourcing providing to patient education and more.

Like to hear more? Get in touch to discuss all things healthcare social media.

What Facebook’s Graph Search Means for Healthcare


Facebook recently announced a new product launching in limited beta – Graph Search. The product aims to completely restructure the current Facebook search functionality and create additional opportunities for users to discover new content and connections among their friends and within the entire Facebook platform.

While Graph Search is currently only available to a limited number of users, and Facebook has not given any indication of developing healthcare-specific functionality, it does create a number of very interesting possible opportunities for users across the healthcare spectrum.

Graph Search will become even more important if Facebook continues to leverage its influence to advocate for specific health-related causes, like it has done in the past with organ donation.


  • Especially those with terminal, rare or chronic diseases, Graph Search could open new opportunities to connect with others living with the same conditions.
  • Niche patient communities have become powerful channels for patients to educate themselves and others on the best way to manage their diseases, but could become less influential if patients are able to connect with others through Graph Search to meet the same needs without leaving Facebook.
  • The added location function could unite people in their local area and lead to offline communities and support groups.


  • For healthcare providers who manage Facebook pages, it will become increasingly important to optimize your page so that it can be properly indexed and served up to users seeking information about you.
  • The promotion and collection of likes and recommendations will also become increasingly important as potential patients use graph search to seek recommendations on local providers based on the experiences of people they trust within their social network.


  • While Graph Search does not address many of the regulatory limitations that keep many pharmaceutical companies from building fully interactive Facebook presences, it will be important to evaluate the impact of Graph Search to better understand any regulatory impacts of Graph Search, for both branded and unbranded pharmaceutical pages.
  • Increased use of Facebook search could provide additional justification for corporate or product pages as opportunities to drive users off of Facebook to other fully controlled and fully compliant digital properties.

While it is too early to make solid predictions into Graph Search’s expected impact on healthcare, it does highlight the continued need to follow key platform changes and their impact on audience behavior, program optimization and regulatory compliance.  A determining factor in the impact of Graph Search will also be how willing users will be to not only search for and trust health related information within Facebook, but their willingness to share personal health information through their profiles as they gain access to the new ways that Facebook is enabling other users to access that data.

It also highlights a bigger opportunity for Facebook and other social platforms to leverage shared social data to foster the creation of meaningful connections among disparate healthcare communities. Some of the most meaningful opportunities to leverage Facebook have yet to be discovered and go far beyond creative uses of pages and applications.