In Wake of FDA Delaying Social Media Guidelines, Online Health Leaders Push for Greater Involvement from Companies and Offer Guidelines for Successful Online Engagement

Share Article

Analysis of recent WEGO Health survey of online health community leaders reveals seventy-two percent agree company involvement provides important updates on products.

News Image
Until the FDA gets around to prioritizing this critical issue, the industry must look to leaders within the social media space to help guide and inform the industry on how to effectively engage with audiences online -Jack Barrette

Despite the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) reluctance to release guidelines on health care companies’ use of social media, a recent survey measuring the sentiments of social media “power users” in the health space revealed that the online community supports healthcare company engagement in social media and feel it has the strong potential to significantly benefit both consumers and the healthcare industry.

The survey, administered by leading online health community WEGO Health, polled more than 200 “Health Activists” – social media organizers, leaders and contributors who each speak to an average online audience of more than 15,000 every month. Contrary to popular belief that social media users want companies to avoid engaging with them online, a staggering seventy-two percent of those surveyed agree that company participation in social media provides vital information regarding insights on products and services.

At this week’s DTC National Conference in Boston, Mass., WEGO Health’s CEO and founder Jack Barrette will moderate the panel, “Social Media Won't Wait: Health Activists Speak Out, Industry Speaks Up,” during which pharma experts will provide feedback, context and prospective on the WEGO Health FDA survey.

“This conference couldn’t come at a better time,” said Barrette. “Until the FDA gets around to prioritizing this critical issue, the industry must look to leaders within the social media space to help guide and inform the industry on how to effectively engage with audiences online.”

As some of social media’s most influential and active participants in the online health space, Health Activists offer a unique perspective on how the online healthcare community at-large is inspired to support, reject, or otherwise ignore engagement efforts initiated by corporate brands.

“Companies are largely missing from the supportive, real-life conversations going on in health discussion groups, on social networks and across other social media platforms,” said Ellen Schnackenberg, WEGO Health Activist. “I’ve been at this long enough to know they have regulations that get in the way, but all parties would benefit if [companies] could be at the table with us.”

Additional data from the survey revealed the following:

•Sixty-three percent agree that social media dialogue between healthcare companies and online communities is valuable, and regulations should not prevent those open conversations;
•Seventy-four percent of respondents agree that any FDA regulations need to be tailored to reflect the unique attributes of the Internet and social media;
•Sixty-four percent agree that health care companies’ participation in social media will not decrease after the FDA guidelines are issued, they do believe that there is a need for tailoring the regulations to reflect the attributes of the Internet and social media;
•Sixty percent agree that companies should get involved in monitoring and correcting any misconceptions or misinformation about their product on the Internet.

“When it comes to engaging social media, healthcare companies have an opportunity to bring accurate and credible information,” said Barrette. “In the absence of official guidance from FDA, these recommendations and insights provided by Health Activists are a resounding call for companies to continue to support their social media programs.”

About WEGO Health
WEGO Health is the home of Health Activists, who are passionate organizers, connectors and contributors in health communities across the web. These leaders meet at WEGO Health to learn from each and speak directly to healthcare companies about the conditions that are most important to them. Founded in 2007 and led by online health pioneers Jack Barrette and Bob Brooks, WEGO Health is a privately held, privately funded company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. For more information, visit http://www.wegohealth.com.

Media Contact:
Emma Douglas
KNB Communications
203-504-8230 x 107
edouglas(at)knbpr(dot)com

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Emma Douglas
KNB Communications
203-504-8230 107
Email >
Visit website