Beyond Facebook and Instagram: Alternative Social Channels

The Current Situation


On June 17th, a group of 6 civil rights groups and media watchdog groups, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Color of Change, launched the campaign #StopHateForProfit, calling on Facebook advertisers to pause their spending on the social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram) during the month of July.

The coalition is asking brands “to show they will not support a company that puts profit over safety,” and they are demanding that Facebook adopt policies that would stop hate speech and misinformation on its platforms.

We recognize the decision to pause or shift advertising dollars from Facebook is not one that brands will take lightly; we see our role as providing information and options in the event that brands do go in this direction. This Point of View (POV) will outline those options for brands who may want to shift investment but are unclear as to what choices are available to them.


Alternatives To Facebook and Instagram


We believe the core strategic value of social media for pharma has 3 main components:

  • Meeting customers where they are with their brand purpose
  • Opening a dialogue with customers to move that purpose forward
  • Creating advocacy for brands by allowing peer-to-peer dialogue and trusted recommendations

Historically, Facebook has been the go-to platform for many brands because of its broad reach, engaged communities, and pharma friendliness.

However, Facebook’s advantages in this area are not the same thing as a monopoly on these strategic components. Other partners exist who can provide similar value.

Partners Who Warrant a Second



Doximity - The leading professional social network for HCPs, aka LinkedIn for HCPs

LinkedIn - The largest professional social network in the world

Reddit - One of the pioneers in online forums and discussions, they have undergone a major restructuring to lose their “Wild West” reputation and facilitate more purpose-driven conversations and communities

Sermo - The largest global healthcare data collection company

Snapchat - The most popular social platform among younger audiences, making a major push into health

TikTok - The most downloaded social media app for short-form mobile videos, especially among young adults. It experienced a substantial boost during the pandemic due to “stay at home” orders

Twitch - Live video-streaming platform that is branching out from its roots in video games to encompass other shared experiences

Twitter - Still an important platform for people to “keep up” with what’s going on

YouTube - The world’s largest video search engine


DTC Social Media Platforms




The core concept of Snapchat is that any picture, video, or message users send is made available to the receiver for only a short time before it becomes inaccessible.


  • Maintain a high audience exclusivity with 70 million daily active users
  • Easy to port first- and third-party data (IQVIA, Crossix, etc)
  • No need to monitor for adverse events because content doesn’t have comments


  • Limited native targeting capabilities specifically for pharma
  • Requires a lengthy flight because a retargeting strategy is needed to drill down to target users




Owned by Google, YouTube is the largest video-sharing social media platform and the biggest video search engine in the world.


  • The internet’s second largest search engine with 2 billion monthly active users
  • Ability to use Google’s targeting capabilities
  • Pharma friendly channel options, ie, disabling comments


  • To support a channel, video content should be pulsed out on a frequent basis
  • Inability to have scrolling ISI on mobile app and mobile browser




Twitter is a social media platform where users share regular, frequent updates on their topics of interest or their lives. Twitter content, because of the define nature of the platform, has the ability to go viral much faster than on any other platform


  • 330 million monthly active users
  • Appropriate for both DTC and HCP
  • Ability to target relevant hashtags, which makes it a good tool for conferences and events


  • Difficult environment for dialogue because comments can’t be removed
  • Inaccurate targeting due to lack of user data
  • Spam/bot/troll problem




The site bills itself as the “front page of the internet.” Reddit is the fifth most popular site in the United States and the 18th worldwide. Essentially, it’s a massive collection of forums, where people can share news and content or comment on other people’s posts.


  • 430 million monthly active users who are exclusive to Reddit
  • Specific subreddits dedicated to individual disease states
  • Anonymity encourages honest conversations
  • Down vote button allows users to ‘dislike’ content


  • Inability to target chronic conditions (e.g. multiple sclerosis audience)
  • Anonymity leads to poor targeting capabilities due to the lack of user data




The world’s most downloaded social media app for short-form mobile videos (ranked #1 in both iOS and Google Play app stores). Allows users to create short-form video content that can be customized with filters, special effects, and music, all shared in a video feed–like environment.


  • 800 million monthly active users
  • 41% of audience is 16-24
  • Healthcare providers in the United States have begun using it to share their thoughts and opinions on topics like vaping, STIs, and managing medical debt


  • Targeting capabilities are weak. Regulated industry solutions are scheduled to roll out in Q4 2020
  • Ample amount of video content is necessary
  • Poor reporting capabilities and self-service platform is difficult to navigate




Owned by Amazon, Twitch is the world’s leading live streaming platform for gamers. Users watch and chat with millions of other gamer fans from around the world.


  • 15 million monthly active users
  • 71% of audience are millennials (23-38 years old)
  • Unique audience that is specific to the gamer world
  • Interesting influencer opportunities


  • Targeting capabilities are weak, only general demographics and high-level psychographic details
  • Ad content must be native to the platform



HCP Social Media Platforms




Owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is the largest professional social network in the world, with over 575+ million users globally.


  • Professional and business-minded user base
  • Specific targeting based on industry and role
  • Audience is active and engaged



  • Higher CPC than other platforms
  • Restrictions for DTC ads
  • Limited ad products available




It’s the leading US professional medical network, with a total membership base of over 1.3 million healthcare professionals, including over 80% of US physicians and 45% of all NPs and PAs as verified members.


  • Large member base of verified HCPs
  • Target audience is active and engaged
  • Hundreds of data points on members that enable accurate targeting
  • Physician level data reporting available


  • No self-service advertising platform




It’s the largest global healthcare data collection company and social platform, which enables anonymous peer-to-peer collaboration among 1.3 million HCPs from 150 countries.


  • Large global presence
  • Target audience is active and engaged
  • Interactive content format
  • Anonymity encourages honest conversations without repercussions



  • Smaller pool of US HCPs compared to Doximity
  • Some disease states (eg, rare disease) are underrepresented 
  • No option for direct offline HCP engagement due to anonymity policy

Please contact your account leads or if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above.