In addition to pie-in-the-sky ideas, we also asked readers for the best current or former healthcare social media campaigns that marketers can learn something from. Three marketers provide some of their favorite examples.

Rocco Albano


To truly influence the conversation, pharma needs to participate across the treatment journey, not just at the point of sales and dispensation. Social provides the platform to do this.

Hundreds of “patient” moderated Facebook groups exist for people on treatment journeys for diabetes, cancer, and depression, to name a few. And thousands of Facebook groups are available in which people come together not as “patients,” but as peers, in support of each other in managing chronic conditions regardless of treatment modality.

So how can pharmaceutical brands participate in this dialogue? By transforming their brand to be more than just a pill. By creating digital experiences that people can access as part of their prescription, to track, guide, and share their journey, send adherence and outcomes data to their physicians, and connect with other patients seeking emotional support in private moderated social forums.

It’s already happening with (PLM) a free, patient-to-patient moderated social community. PLM members have the ability to “donate their data for good” sans personally identifiable information to research institutions and pharma companies. Many pharma organizations have partnered with PLM to advance their treatments and aid in clinical trial recruitment. Now that is truly leveraging the power of social to get people talking about their treatment experience to deliver better health outcomes.

Michael Spitz

why so awake?

We can consider several successful and compliant examples of pharma marketers using social media to increase patient engagement and get people talking like Volvo did.

Immediately coming to mind is Pfizer’s best-in-class “Get Old” campaign ( that uses multiple social channels to cut through the noise and get people talking about how aging can be an empowering experience. Using clever, trending hashtags such as #FOGO (“Fear of Getting Old”) and emotionally resonant creative, the campaign has generated tens of thousands of followers and stimulated hundreds of millions of social impressions.

More recently, Allergan’s “Actually She Can” ( expands this approach with socially curated health and wellness content designed to create a movement of Millennial women who empower and inspire each other by turning up the positive and being themselves. Using every tool in the social toolbox, from hashtags to emojis, the campaign has even syndicated to The Daily Beast and Cosmo.

Another great example is Merck’s “Why So Awake?” social campaign (, dedicated to providing insight and support for people suffering with insomnia. With more than 60,000 followers on Twitter, the campaign has stimulated substantial buzz about redefining and helping to treat insomnia, with a dynamic doctor discussion guide to drive patients to a branded conversation.

Dave Mihalovic
birds and bees


Pharma obviously faces steep regulatory hurdles when it comes to developing truly engaging and viral social media campaigns. But it is possible.

First, it depends on the category. Social campaigns will have the most impact in more emotional areas with passionate audiences that are already researching and conversing online.

Second, while brand-based social may not pass regulatory review, non-branded or causal campaign-based social media has an easier time getting out the door.

Finally, it’s important to have a plan that reaches audiences across multiple platforms. This not only allows you to reach more people, but ensures that those who are truly social are surrounded by your message.

EMD Serono’s “Birds and Bees” campaign is a great example of how pharma can achieve results in social media. The campaign was designed to support the company’s fertility franchise of products by creating awareness around options for couples that have been trying to conceive.

The work began with Funny or Die-like videos that ran across social media supported by a campaign hashtag. The videos were further supported by “mommy blogger” networks, PR initiatives, and relevant influencers.

The social campaign brought audiences to the company’s owned properties, which then drove visits to fertility specialists. Based on its success, EMD Serono has since decided to revive the campaign.


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