The definition of placebo is a preparation that contains no active ingredient. To date, most attempts by pharmaceutical companies to ‘engage’ in social media by disabling all comments, like/dislike features, and sharing tools have had the net effect of removing the active ingredient from social media entirely.
I’m inclined to believe that our collective euphoria around social media as an industry is akin to a classic placebo effect, where the outcome improves simply because there is an expectation that it will. This short-term impact is fed more by internal marketing hype (i.e., our brand is the first to have an app) than any real customer value. Like any placebo, the influence is short lived and inactive agents are ultimately replaced with real product.
So, what does this mean for Pharma? Although initial industry forays into social media may have a benefit for some patients, unless they have access to the genuine product, the results are likely to be artificially inflated and transient.
Now, will you provide your customers with a genuine social media product, or are you content to wait for the placebo effect to wear off?