Facebook Graph SearchPharmaceutical trade publications like PM360 and online marketing communities like Facebook’s Graph Search will be a game changer for advertisers. No doubt consumer product companies will immediately optimize and benefit, but pharma will face more difficulty navigating this new important opportunity. With the launch of Graph Search, Facebook will challenge Google’s domination on search-engine marketing that integrates search, social and shopping functions to influence like-minded consumers. Specific to pharma, the approach represents a solid opportunity to create networks of self-identified patients and route them to beneficial resources, including important product information. What I just wrote triggers both promise and panic in pharma execs. Healthcare companies want the chance to connect online with motivated patient communities, especially because healthcare is the area most driven by the testimony of friends and family. But medication discussions in an ever-more-expansive (and freewheeling) online environment may raise the regulatory red flags that have halted drug manufacturers in the digital space for far too long. The growth of social graphing will provide a boon to disease awareness programs given the reduced restrictions on non-branded efforts. But to optimize the connection back to product and corporate image, pharma companies will need to build more value into their websites—beyond R&D pipeline info, press releases and ISI. Only then will patients and advocates have good reason to “like” the pages and fold them into the graph. On the potential power of the new search offering in a more intimate engagement space, a Merck executive says it well: Google is the whole world, but Facebook is my neighborhood.” 

  • Sam Welch

    A veteran marketer of some of the world’s most recognizable names in healthcare, Sam brings a broad perspective to communications as Global Group President for Discovery Chicago, Razorfish Healthware and the Saatchi & Saatchi Health brand families. Agency offerings include professional promotion, consumer communications, branding, customer relationship management, digital promotion, and government affairs. Previous roles within PHCG include President of Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Communications Group in the U.S. and Chief Operating Officer of PHCG. Sam serves on the board of The Child Center of NY, an organization dedicated to serving at-risk youth through education, counseling, and youth development services.


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