While the majority of domestic retailers have taken to social media to promote products, the same is not true for the pharmaceutical industry. A report issued by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics on January 21, 2014 found that about fifty percent of the top fifty pharmaceutical companies were not actively using social media. Further, companies using social media were not using it in an effective manner. Social media platforms reviewed were Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Johnson & Johnson received the highest overall score for social media use.
Social media is deemed as important for the pharmaceutical industry because it allows companies to quickly react to events that can sway public opinion. Instead of relying on the media to convey a message to the public, pharmaceutical companies could do it themselves through a social media campaign. Social media also would allow the pharmaceutical industry to reach new potential customers and interact with those customers directly. That direct communication with customers using pharmaceutical products could have a host of benefits for drug companies.
The IMS report proposes that the pharmaceutical industry is not maximizing social media engagement in part because of the lack of FDA guidelines. The FDA has only published draft guidelines on social media use. The report speculates that, once the FDA creates solid, tangible rules for social media usage, pharmaceutical companies will increase their online presence within the medium. An increase in social media usage by drug companies could ultimately improve customer relations, help to market new products, and eventually drive sales.