Anticipating social media trends and navigating change in 2024

By Casey Ross, Director of Social Media Strategy, FCB Health New York

Gain insights and trends to stay ahead in our dynamic industry

As we approach 2024, let’s dig into three pivotal factors shaping the landscape of pharma social: channels, creative and subscriptions.

1. Navigating the channel landscape with new, potential, and current players in social media advertising

New players:

Pinterest’s advertising function is now out of beta and has opened its doors to Rx brands which is expected to gain increased attention. LinkedIn has been allowing HCP advertising for nearly two years and has now expanded its capabilities in late Q4 2023, enabling targeting of patients and caregivers. These major platforms boast 87 million US users and 77 million US users, respectively, which will continue to allow us a variety of channels to leverage to reach our audiences.

Takeaway: Tapping into these platforms requires unique tailored content given their diverse user mindset, so please don’t rush to lift and shift your content from other channels.

Potential players:

Threads, with 24 million US users, and WhatsApp, boasting 66 million US users, offer exciting opportunities as additional channels. The intriguing prospect of Meta monetizing these platforms will allow for seamless integration into their advertising system for a user-friendly buying and placement experience.

Takeaway: We anticipate WhatsApp to be monetized first given user behavior trends observed on Instagram, where private sharing aligns with WhatsApp's nature as a closed messaging app. For ads to feel native, we will be forced to think short form text first, circa Twitter in 2013.

Current players:

We anticipate a steady flow of updates from Facebook/Instagram/Snap/Reddit/X, while newcomers like Weare8, Lapse and others introduce fresh opportunities.

Takeaway: With the growing array of channels, maintaining a presence on established platforms and closely monitoring audience behaviors will continue to be the guiding force for brands. This approach helps us in navigating the landscape, determining where to invest and what type of content to create.


2. Time for pharma creative to take the next step

Native tools and AI:

The influence of internal editing tools and AI is revolutionizing content creation. Both TikTok and Meta are integrating AI into ad creation for seamless optimization. TikTok, powered by ByteDance's Capcut, showcases impressive advancements through its editing tools. Reels is closely following TikTok's lead, seamlessly integrating powerful tools directly into the platform for easy use and native functionalities that bring content to life.


  • If you're creating content for social media, download these apps and start exploring to see the incredible possibilities they offer, all within the app. The advancements are remarkable, making creativity feel native to the platform and easier to create.
  • We can expect an influx of AI or AI-assisted content in our feeds, raising questions about user behavior and platform management. Watermarks, especially during events like the 2024 presidential election, are anticipated but managing organic AI content remains a big question. While TikTok currently allows users to disclose AI use, the default setting is "off," leaving us to wonder if 2024 will bring a flood of AI-created content.

Meta's commitment to pharma with creative shop

Demonstrating a growing focus on the pharma industry, Meta consistently adds significant value through monthly "Health Care Alliance" meetings, office hours and numerous in-person events. Guided by real pharma marketers with a listen-first mindset, these efforts showcase ongoing investments in the healthcare space.

Takeaway: Teams should leverage their creative expertise, tapping into the valuable insights provided by the Creative Shop team. With a deep understanding of Meta platforms, they regularly share excellent examples, tips and tricks to elevate creative efforts to the next level.


3. Subscriptions | Ad-Free, added functionality, & combatting bots

We anticipate an uptick in channels offering subscriptions to diversify their revenue, fight bots and verify users.

Ad-free subscriptions

Advertisers are always wary of ad-free models, currently seen in Reddit Premium, Meta's EU rollout and TikTok/Snap's tests abroad. The most effective approach to consistently reaching a target audience with ads is to leverage influencers and embrace organic content. This is especially important on platforms like TikTok, where users treat it as a search engine.

Takeaway: The acceptance of ad-free experiences is uncertain. Users often scroll past ads, and convincing them, especially teenagers, to purchase an ad-free subscription is a challenge. However, the rise of long-form videos on TikTok could create opportunities, with some users potentially paying for uninterrupted viewing. It's a landscape worth monitoring as user behavior evolves.

Added functionality

Exploring added functionality is promising for channels. For instance, YouTube Premium justifies its cost with benefits like ad-free content and access to YouTube Music. LinkedIn Premium Business, at $59.99/month, offers diverse capabilities, including AI solutions, which, though more relevant for job seekers, remain beneficial for all users. Snap+ provides exclusive, experimental and pre-release features which warrant the monthly cost. Users get access to features like custom icons to advanced analytics to allowing Stories to live for up to one week.

Combatting bots

X's 'Not A Bot' program charges users in New Zealand and the Philippines $1/year to combat bots. Paying users can post, reply or repost on the platform, while non-paying users can only take “read-only” actions. With AI bot farms being able to create bots at a speed and scale we have never seen, user authentication is crucial. This shift impacts elections and ad buying, as advertisers seek assurance for real human impressions.

We anticipate channels to follow LinkedIn and Meta who offer verified subscriptions to enhance user authentication. User verification will become integral to all channels in 2024, providing assurances to advertisers that our impressions are reaching real people.

Takeaway: 2024 promises to be an exciting year of evolution and innovation for pharma brands on social. The best way to keep up with their rapid pace is to actively use them. Having these apps on your phone enables you to experience how influencers/creators, advertisers and brands are leveraging these channels.

Subscriptions at a glance

  • LinkedIn Premium: $59.99/month
  • Youtube Premium: $13.99/month
  • Snap+: $3.99/month
  • Reddit Premium: $5.99/month or $49.99/year
  • Tumblr Ad-Free Browsing: $4.99/month or $39.99/year
  • TikTok ad free (small test outside the US): $4.99/month (reported)
  • Snap ad free test in Australia: $10.50/month (US dollars)
  • Meta ad free in the EU: $14.99/month (US dollars)
  • X Premium and X Pro: Basic: $3/month or $32/year, Premium: $8/month or $84/year, Premium+: $16/month or $168/year