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Healthcare Companies Weigh Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing

Experts on social media marketing say that the healthcare industry is dragging its feet. Social media is still in its infancy; in fact, less than half of all Americans have signed up on Facebook. The possibilities of social media marketing are huge, but many industries are still struggling to master the basic gist of how to make it work for them. Social media presents a particularly daunting set of problems that highly regulated industries like healthcare are trying to avoid merely by staying passive. However, experts are urging pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare companies to dip their feet in the water, while keeping legal counsel close at hand.

Healthcare industries are scrutinized heavily by the FDA and regulated with a watchful eye by the Division of Drug Marketing and Communications. Pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers alike must adhere to certain standards in their marketing endeavors, but social media marketing still lacks clear boundaries. The FDA has not as of yet put together a definitive social media policy for pharmaceutical companies, which leaves a looming gray area. Pharmaceutical companies are cautious about being the first to take the plunge, but experts urge that wading into social media does not have to be a scary experience. As long as healthcare industries try to capture the spirit of the laws that are in place, and keep lawyers within an arm’s length, there should not be any issues.

It is important for healthcare providers to jump on board and start working with social media sooner than later because it takes time for companies to work out the methods that draw a high enough critical mass to drive online dialog. Without a large enough group of people interacting, web sites are not getting the full benefits of the social media. Getting people to a social media site and then getting them talking takes a lot of effort. The longer healthcare industries wait to start working with social media, the longer it will take them to master its use.

Perhaps there is some wisdom to waiting, but healthcare industries have a lot to offer through social media marketing. Social media is a great platform for education and dialog as well as marketing. Many experts believe that a more proficient use of social media by healthcare industries could be extremely valuable to consumers. Healthcare industries are weighing the potential costs and benefits against the cons as they observe how other industries are faring by using social networks to market their products and services. As the potential benefits begin to outweigh the potential costs, more and more healthcare providers will jump on the social media band wagon.

Jennifer is a content editor for the PhysioAge Medical Group.

Comments on this Article: 2

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  1. Jennifer, your point is well taken and timely. The healthcare industry needs to be proactive about setting social media standards. Your readers might find my article about Social Media in regulated industries interesting. http://adlerlaw.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/regulated-industries-social-medial-legal-regulatory-compliance/. There is some guidance on use of social media by the FDA even if it is not as explicit as one would like.

  2. Jennifer Hill says:

    David, that is a very well written article. I don’t know if the legal powers that be will ever agree on ways to control or monitor the Internet and the varying parts thereof, but they will try.

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