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Consumers Using Social Media to Obtain Healthcare Information

Newly released data from a survey—focused on consumer social media use—by Kantar Media indicates that in 2012, 165 million adults used the Internet to search for health-related information. Among those who did:

  • 53% said that social networking was a reason for accessing the Internet in the last 30 days.
  • 4% used Facebook or Twitter to obtain/research healthcare information.

The survey also found that 55% of Internet uses in the United States used social media for health and wellness in 2012. Among them:

  • 26% visited sites with user-generated content, such as Wikipedia.
  • 23% watched informational videos covering health and wellness.
  • 23% viewed blogs about a given health topic.

What’s more, nearly 25% of survey respondents reported using social networking sites frequently or occasionally as online health resources, a percentage that has grown each year since 2010 (see below). That’s good news for those pharmaceutical marketers who are engaging consumers on sites like Twitter and Facebook, and a sign that it might be time to jump on board for those who aren’t.


Diving a little further into Kantar’s findings brings to light those age groups that are most likely to use the Internet for health research and who frequently/occasionally use social networking sites for health- and wellness-related searches. At the top of this are those aged 35 to 44 (see below), followed by those aged 25 to 34 and then those aged 18 to 24. That’s not a surprising finding, but it certainly reinforces what age groups are worthwhile targeting through social networking sites. It’s also worth noting that use drops off dramatically at age 45 and continues to drop with age.


It also appears that consumers with chronic conditions are more likely to use social networking sites as online health information sources. The figure below documents individuals that currently have or had the listed conditions in last 12 months.


It would certainly make sense that those marketing pharmaceuticals indicated for depression, diabetes, migraine headaches, bipolar disorder, and anxiety would want to take a serious look at stepping up or launching—depending on the case—a digital marketing plan with a strong social networking component.

HealthBridge wants to know…
What plans do you have for including social networking in your marketing plans for 2013?

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