Pharmaceutical Brands: Don't Let Facebook Un-Friend You

February 21, 2018

I just attended the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting, and met with many pharmaceutical and medical device marketers. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of conversation about social media and growing brand presence on Facebook and Instagram. By far, the most discussed topic was Facebook’s recent algorithm change.

This is a really important development for pharmaceutical marketers. I’ll explain why this matters, and provide guidance on how to adapt your brand’s social media strategies…and hopefully save some budget too!

So, what has changed?

Facebook is retooling the algorithm that determines which content appears in users’ news feeds. The goal is to encourage more meaningful engagement between you and your friends, and within the Groups and business pages you follow. This change, which many of you are likely already noticing, will result in seeing more content from people and brands that are generating meaningful comments, reactions and shares, and less content that does not.

For Facebook advertisers who depend on both paid and organic reach to target audiences, this means content that does not generate much engagement will be more expensive to promote on Facebook than content that is generating engagement. In summary, if you don’t make these simple changes, your money is being wasted.

Now, what can you do about it? Here are 3 things you can do right away:

  1. Enable comments on your brand’s Facebook page! You may know that Facebook makes an exception for pharmaceutical brands to disable comments. Do not do this! This exception was created to allow pharma brands to advertise on Facebook, without getting required MLR approvals to respond to unforeseen comments. This should not be a barrier for your brand (spoiler alert: see #3 below). Engaging with consumers on Facebook builds trust in your brand, and is critical to discoverability on Facebook.
  2. Make your branded content more engaging. Engaging content will evoke an emotion or reaction by your target audience. If you know your target audience intimately, which I’m hoping all you marketers do, you should have no problem figuring out how to get them to engage on social media. The upside for this hard work is financial: you’ll pay lower CPMs to Facebook to reach the right target audience.
  3. Take the time to write and get a pre-approved extensive Response Protocol for social media. Where to start? Review things like call center scripts and FAQs on your website. Pre-approved responses will arm you with answers to the questions patients have about your products. Also, don’t forget you’ll need a process for reporting Adverse Events.

Most importantly, I strongly recommend that brands work with their social media teams to ensure they are not left behind.

Any questions? Drop me a line at