Drugmakers have failed to gain the trust of most consumers on social networking sites, a new PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey found. The survey's findings come as pharma companies and other healthcare stakeholders wrestle with how best to use social media.
The survey was based on responses from more than 1,000 U.S. consumers--a respectable, yet small sampling of the millions of people on Facebook and Twitter--and 124 executives from pharma and other healthcare-related organizations. It found that 37% of consumers trust information from drug companies on social media venues like Facebook, with other healthcare players such as doctors (61%), hospitals (55%) and health insurers (42%) all seeming more trustworthy, according to the survey.
Other survey scores drive home why pharma might not be able to ignore social media. About a third of consumers said that information from social networking sites could influence their decisions about medicines, InPharm reported about the survey. Yet drugmakers appear to be using social media less as a promotional tool than as a way to provide information and gather feedback or other data from consumers, according to the PwC survey.
"Health organizations have an opportunity to use social media as a way to better listen, participate in discussions and engage with consumers in ways that extend their interaction beyond a clinical encounter," PwC's Kelly Barnes, of the company's U.S. health unit, said, as quoted by InPharm. "Savvy adopters are viewing social media as a business strategy, not just a marketing tool."
Life sciences companies have already begun to dig into the wealth of consumer data from social networking sites to learn about such things as what are the hot topics among target patient groups and what is influencing their decisions. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), for example, recently inked a multi-year deal with a unit of Infosys and Fabric Worldwide to listen in on online and social media conversations.
(Images courtesy of PwC)