The Power of Social Listening in Healthcare Communities for Pharma

May 8, 2023
Posted by: Rishi Kadiwar, VP Strategy- DTC

In recent years, patients have increasingly turned to private social media communities to learn about their conditions and seek emotional support from others who share their experiences. A survey conducted by the PwC Health Research Institute in 2020 found that 90% of 1,000 US adults use social media to search for health information. Additionally, over 40% of respondents stated that social media influences their decision when it comes to choosing a specific doctor, hospital, or medical treatment. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that about 50% of patients with chronic illnesses used social media to share their experiences and learn about treatments. 

These communities provide a safe and confidential space for patients to connect with others who understand what they’re going through. By sharing information and experiences, patients can gain a clearer understanding of their conditions and learn about new treatments or coping strategies.

This can bring significant advantages to patients who may experience isolation or discrimination because of their condition. Additionally, patients can use these communities to prepare for visits with their healthcare providers by learning about questions to ask or issues to raise during appointments. 

In addition to Facebook Groups, TikTok and Reddit have emerged as popular platforms for patients to access condition-specific information and support. TikTok users create and share concise, informative videos that simplify complex medical concepts or narrate personal experiences of living with a particular condition.

On Reddit, there are many forums, also known as subreddits, that focus on health problems. People can ask questions, share their experiences, and give advice in a caring environment. By utilizing the distinctive features of these forums, patients can gain knowledge about their conditions from different perspectives and develop a sense of community and belonging. This is crucial for maintaining emotional well-being during difficult health journeys. 

 So why aren’t pharma brand managers utilizing social listening more often to reach their audiences? 

Pharmaceutical companies can gain valuable insights into patient experiences, concerns, and needs by mining and analyzing social media posts. This information helps in informing messaging and targeting social media channels for pharma brands. 

One of the primary benefits of mining social media data is that it provides a real-time, unfiltered look into patient experiences with a particular medication or disease. Patients often share their experiences and opinions, providing a wealth of information for brand managers. This information can be used to identify common pain points, side effects, or concerns that patients may have, thus allowing brands to tailor their messaging to address these concerns and improve patient outcomes. 

 In addition, analyzing social media data through social listening can assist brand managers in discovering potential influencers or advocates for their brand. These people may have a significant social media following or frequently interact with other patients, making them excellent candidates for collaborating with pharma brands to promote their products. Recognizing these individuals can aid brands in developing targeted marketing campaigns that reach a wider audience. 

In today’s world, patients are relying more and more on social media groups for support and advice. Pharmaceutical brand managers have a unique opportunity to utilize social listening to gain a better understanding of their target audience, personalize their messages, and engage with key influencers. Embracing these opportunities can not only improve pharmaceutical marketing strategies but also lead to better patient outcomes and experiences. 

Download the Pharma Product LifeCycle eBook  to learn how to take insights from social listening and turn them into creative engagement tactics. 


Reach out to the author, Rishi Kadiwar, VP Strategy – DTC, LiveWorld, to learn more about digital and social agency services for the healthcare and pharma industry –