Health Canada Posts Controversial Topics on Facebook

Health Canada communicates and educates with social media

Health Canada has an active presence on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. They post about anything that is health-related that may be of interest to Canadians, from product recalls to vacation safety tips to vaccination. Their posts are usually of an educational or informative basis.

At the time of writing this blog post, May 8th 2019, the following for Health Canada on their social media networks are as follows:

  • Facebook: 111,142
  • Twitter: 229,000
  • LinkedIn: 99,752
  • YouTube: 4,549

Analysis of the Health Canada Facebook page

For the purpose of this blog post, we decided to take a look at Health Canada’s Facebook page because it has the highest level of engagement per post compared to all of the Health Canada social sites. We also decided to look at only 2019 posts, therefore the following analysis looks at all of the Health Canada Facebook posts from January 1 2019 to May 1 2019.

The Health Canada Facebook page actually goes by the name of “Healthy Canadians“. The page has been in existence since November 2019, and it is managed by 46 Canadian administrators. Approximately 3 posts get published per day on the Health Canada Facebook page, the majority of which are accompanied by a photo, and a few with a video. Health Canada promotes some of its posts, so it is possible that Canadians have seen some of their promoted posts even if they do not follow their page.

Examples of recently promoted Health Canada Facebook posts:

Statistics on Health Canada Facebook Posts

Health Canada posted a total of 376 posts during the first five months of 2019. Most posts are unique in their messaging or are repeated just a few times. For the purpose of this article, we picked out the posts that seemed to repeat a similar message most frequently. Here is what we found;

  • 32 posts on the topic of recalls, which involved either foods or products,
  • 24 posts on the topic of vaccinations,
  • 16 posts on the topic of measles,
  • 12 posts on vaping,
  • 12 posts on cannabis and
  • 10 posts on opioids.
Facebook reaction icons.

The posts that generated the most engagement were on the following topics:

  1. Measles
  2. Vaccination (related to flu or measles)
  3. Recall (food or product)
  4. Vaping **
  5. Opioid **
  6. Cannabis **

** Note that although the vaping, opioid, cannabis topics came in 4th, 5th and 6th place respectively, their total numbers were well below those of the top 3 topics, in the range of 1-4% the total engagement of the top 3 topics.

The posts that generated the most shares were on the following topics:

  1. Recall (food or product)
  2. Measles
  3. Vaccination (related to flu or measles)

The posts that generated the most comments were on the following topics:

  1. Measles
  2. Vaccination
  3. Recall **

** Note that although recall came in 3rd place, its total was well below those of the top 2 topics.

The posts that generated the most likes were on the following topics:

  1. Measles
  2. Recall
  3. Vaccination (related to flu or measles)
  4. Opioid **
  5. Vaping **

** Note that although the opioid and vaping topics came in 4th and 5th place respectively, their total numbers were well below those of the top 3 topics.

The posts that generated the most angry face reactions were on the following topics:

  1. Measles
  2. Salmonella
  3. Vaccination (related to flu or measles)

The posts that generated the most surprise ‘wow’ reactions were on the following topics:

  1. Recall (food or product), by about 5 fold the amount of ‘wow’ reactions for the topic in 2nd place
  2. Measles
  3. Vaccination

Some of the Health Canada Facebook posts are controversial

It is clear that some of Health Canada’s Facebook posts are generating controversy, particularly those generating comments and angry face reactions; measles and vaccination. We are not all that surprised by this but what was surprising was the level of engagement on these two topics compared to the others.

Are people clicking on the angry reaction because they do not like the stance that Health Canada is taking and feel offended, or is it because people who do agree with Health Canada’s stance are angry about the situation? We do not know. However, we do know that this is generating a tremendous opportunity for discussion particularly as we see a large amount of discussion in the comments of both topics. These are obviously delicate and touchy subjects. We commend Health Canada for not shying away from such sensitive topics, as there needs to be education and discussion, and who better than Health Canada to address such issues head-on.


Marketing 4 Health now offers customized social media analytics reports, where you can gather insightful information on your own social media sites and compare them to your competitors’. If are just planning on starting your visibility on social media, why not take a look at what your competitors are doing before finalizing your plans so that you can then outdo your competition?

This can help you better design your communication strategy and content, schedule your posts during optimal times and post with an ideal frequency. Since the analysis can be done on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, our research can help you identify where your audience is more responsive. What we have shown in this particular article is simply a few highlights of what we can uncover for one particular social network.

Contact us today for a quote!

Astellas Promotes “C3 Prize: Changing Cancer Care” Challenge on Social Media

What is the Astellas C3 Prize; Changing Cancer Care challenge?

Astellas is holding its 3rd global contest called the C3 Prize; Changing Cancer Care.  Their objective is to provide funding to somebody or to a group with an innovative non-treatment idea intended to improve the lives of cancer patients, caregivers, and their loved ones, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

The winners will receive grants and access to resources to make their life-changing ideas a reality.

This is such a fantastic idea! A win-win for patients and for the innovator!  And yes, Astellas is gaining visibility as a results, and that’s perfectly fine. Many consumer products run similar programs (ie. think pink ribbon for breast cancer), and it’s OK for them to gain awareness as a result as well.

Astellas promotion of C3 Prize Challenge on Facebook:

Astellas is sponsoring Facebook ads to promote their C3 Prize challenge to a long list of countries.  We can tell this now because Facebook recently changed the way that we can view ads of a particular Facebook page.  You can now see which country the ad is being targeted to.  The image below shows only a small fraction of the countries where the Astellas Facebook page is promoting the C3 Prize ads.

Astellas - FB - Changing Cancer Care Prize - FB ad list - world


Here are the C3 Prize ads that one can find on the Astellas Facebook page (confirmed from July 10th to 15th).  There is a mixture of still images and videos, and all have the button “Apply now”;


Unfortunately, these sponsored Facebook posts have not done as well as most of the other posts by Astellas from May 14 to July 14 2018, in terms of engagement (Source: Social Insider).  This was probably expected though for the following reason.  Astellas posts a lot of interesting information on their Facebook page.  Their posts which are targeted to a larger, mainstream audience get more shares and more likes.  It is difficult for posts, such as the C3 Prize challenge, which are targeted to a much narrower audience, to compete with the mainstream posts.  With the C3 Prize challenge posts, Astellas is reaching out to a very narrow group of healthcare entrepreneurs  who are looking to get their innovative cancer care idea off the ground.  There are only a handful of those people around on Facebook.

Astellas promotion of C3 Prize Challenge on LinkedIn:

Despite the challenge in reaching entrepreneurs on Facebook, there is no shortage of business-minded, motivated entrepreneurs on LinkedIn.  As such, it is not surprising to see that the Astellas C3 Prize challenge posts on Linked are resulting in substantial engagement.


Astellas promotion of C3 Prize Challenge on Twitter:

Several months ago, Twitter announced that we would be able to access a hub of some kind to find ads by particular accounts, but that has not happened yet.  As such, I am unable to tell whether Astellas is sponsoring advertisements on Twitter or not.  However, there are quite a few posts using the #C3Prize hashtag.  Here are a couple of examples below.

Astellas - FB - Changing Cancer Care Prize - tweets


Astellas #C3Prize Twitter chat statistics:

Astellas held a Twitter chat on July 12th, at 2pm E.S.T.  This is a great way to create a live conversation between stakeholders to create more awareness and generate buzz around a particular hashtag.

Astellas cleverly created an image to attach to some of its first Twitter post during the Twitter chat itself, as it outlined the process and guidelines of the chat.  They made certain that chat participants would know that their ideas were not going to be evaluated during the chat and that anybody seeking information about medical treatments should discuss with their physician.

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat


Here are some data a little over 24 hours AFTER the Twitter chat:

Data from Keyhole:

As would be expected, there was a large increase in the usage of the #C3Prize hashtag during the Twitter chat, and the usage of the hashtag almost immediately went back to base level afterwards.

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat - analysis - posts - Keyhole

The majority of the hashtag users were male both before and after the Twitter chat.

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat - analysis - demographics - Keyhole

Almost half of the tweets posted with the #C3Prize hashtag were initiated on desktop, with the rest on some kind of mobile app.  This means that Astellas needs to prepare digital content that will be well viewed on both desktop and mobile devices.

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat - analysis - platform - Keyhole

Approximately 2/3 of the posts with the #C3Prize hashtag were retweets of other posts that contained the hashtag.  Almost 1/3 of the posts were original posts.  Original posts during a Twitter chat are key because these are the ones that will generate replies and retweets.

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat - analysis - post type - Keyhole

More than half of the tweets with the #C3Prize hashtag were positive in nature, and only around 10% were negative.  The overall sentiment score is calculated based on positive ad negative data.  One must be careful when looking at the negative data because it only takes one negative word in a tweet to label that tweet negative.  For example, one tweet during the chat had the word “unhealthy”, but the content of the tweet was not negative at all.  It was part of the discussion which was about cancer in less fortunate areas.  Nonetheless, it is quite possible that the Keyhole algorithm just read that one word and then labeled it as a negative tweet as a result.

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat - analysis - sentiment score - Keyhole


Here is some complimentary data about the Twitter chat from Socialert:

The majority of the tweets with the #C3Prize hashtag came from the US with a few countries, including Canada, showing up as secondary users.

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat - analysis - geography - Socialert

The profile keywords give you an idea of the type of people who used the #C3Prize hashtag, as these are words that appear in the participants’ Twitter profile.  Seeing the words “cancer”, “health”, “care” and “palliative” indicate that many of the participants describe themselves or their job with these words, therefore are vested in healthcare and may be  influencers.

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat - analysis - profile keywords - Socialert

The top 3 hashtags used during and slightly after the Astellas #C3Prize Twitter chat were #C3Prize (naturally!!), #CancerCare and #Cancer.

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat - analysis - top hashtags - Socialert

The hashtag #CancerCare was also used by Astellas in their tweets about the C3 Prize.  The #CancerCare hashtag appears to be more commonly used.  Astellas must be pleased that their company name was one of the most prominent keywords in tweets containing the hashtag #CancerCare over the past 10 days (source Keyhole, July 4 to July 14 2018).

Astellas - Changing Cancer Care - Twitter chat - analysis - top key words - Socialert

Based on this review, it seems as though the #C3Prize Twitter chat was fairly successful.  Although the hashtag didn’t trend, one has to remember that this was not meant to be a mainstream Twitter chat.  This was a Twitter chat targeted to a handful of people who are entrepreneurs in the healthcare field, and who are searching for funding to make their innovative idea come to fruition.

We can learn from Astellas about using social media to promote a challenge:

  • Your target audience for the challenge will determine your success on various social media platforms.  Entrepreneurs can be found more easily on LinkedIn compared to Facebook and Twitter.
  • A Twitter chat which includes a few influential participants can generate a fair amount of noise during a peak period.
  • Setting up clear Twitter chat guidelines and promoting them ahead of the chat can reduce confusion.
  • Combining your customized hashtag with an associated, more commonly used hashtag to generate greater awareness to a larger audience.

Good luck to all the #C3Prize participants and best wishes to Astellas in choosing their winners amongst all the innovative ideas that they will certainly receive.


Novo Nordisk Privacy Policy Update and Community Guidelines Update

Warning – this is a long blog post because it needed an intro explaining the recent GDPR changes and the new Canadian privacy guidance documents.  If you are here because you are only interested in reading about the Novo Nordisk privacy policy update and community guidelines update, then feel free to skip about the first half of this blog post. 


If your inbox looks anything like mine, you have received quite a few notifications over the past few weeks about companies who have updated their guidelines to improve your privacy.  These updates are in response to the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the European Union’s new data privacy law which came into effect as of May 5 2018.

Companies that collect, store or analyze information on EU residents must now be more transparent about the data they have and who they share it with.

If an EU resident asks a company to delete his or her data, to send a copy of his or her data, or agrees for a company to collect his or her data but not use it in specific circumstances, the company must comply.

If the GDPR is specific for EU residents, why are companies based in other countries required to comply as well?  

If a company, or online service regardless of where it is located, has any data on an EU resident, they must comply.  Basically, the GDPR has become a global standard.  This is actually good news for non-EU residents as they now share the same rights as EU residents, except that they have no legal right to complain if any issue related to this topic arises.

Canada Privacy Guidance Online

On May 24th, the day before the GDPR became applicable, the Canadian Privacy Commissioner issued 2 new Canadian privacy guidance documents to steer webpage owners in the right direction when it comes to content challenges on the internet.  Here is a summary of the 2 Canadian privacy guidance documents.  The information is copied directly from the documents because I did not want to use incorrect wording that would change the meaning of the guidance principles, but please keep in mind that I have only included excerpts that I deemed most important.  If you are a Canadian webpage owner that collects information on its viewers, then I strongly advise that you read both Canadian privacy guidance documents in their entirety. 

The first guidance document focuses on meaningful consent and sets out 7 guiding principles.

  1. Emphasizing certain key elements in privacy information and explaining them in a user friendly way

2. Allow individuals to control the level of detail they get and when

  • Information must be provided to individuals in manageable and easily-accessible ways (potentially including layers) and individuals should be able to control how much more detail they wish to obtain, and when.

3. Providing people with clear options to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’

4. Be innovative and creative

  • Organizations should design and/or adopt innovative consent processes that can be implemented just-in-time, are specific to the context, and are appropriate to the type of interface used.

5. Consider the consumers’ perspective

    • Consent is only valid where the individual can understand that to which they are consenting.

6. Make consent a dynamic and ongoing process

    • Informed consent is an ongoing process that changes as circumstances change; organizations should not rely on a static moment in time but rather treat consent as a dynamic and interactive process.
    • Organizations should also consider periodically reminding individuals about their privacy options and inviting them to review these.
    • Organizations should periodically audit their information management practices to ensure that personal information continues to be handled in the way described to individuals.

7. Being accountable and standing ready to demonstrate compliance

  • Organizations, when asked, should be in a position to demonstrate compliance, and in particular that the consent process they have implemented is sufficiently understandable from the general perspective of their target audience(s) as to allow for valid and meaningful consent.
  • Pointing to a line buried in a privacy policy will not suffice.

The second guidance document clearly identifies ‘no-go zones’.

The “no-go zones” are:

  • Collection, use or disclosure that is otherwise unlawful.
  • Profiling or categorization that leads to unfair, unethical or discriminatory treatment contrary to human rights law.
  • Collection, use or disclosure for purposes that are known or likely to cause significant harm to the individual.
  • Publishing personal information with the intended purpose of charging individuals for its removal.
  • Requiring passwords to social media accounts for the purpose of employee screening
  • Surveillance by an organization through audio or video functionality of the individual’s own device.


Novo Nordisk Privacy Policy Update and Community Guidelines Update

Pharma companies sometimes hold very personal information that could allow for a person’s identity and perhaps even associate that person with various health issues.  Since the social media profiles and blogs by pharmaceutical companies are often managed by the global office yet reach website users from around the world, it makes sense that the majority of the pharmaceutical companies probably updated their privacy policies to better reflect the requirements of the GDPR as well because they certainly get visitors to their sites from various European countries (amongst many other countries).

Novo Nordisk made a privacy policy update as well as a community guidelines update and promoted this change via LinkedIn and Facebook.  As I did not have a copy of their original privacy policy, I was not able to compare the old and the new side-by-side, but I did ask Novo Nordisk, via their Facebook post about their privacy policy update, to comment on what changes they made, and here is the feedback that they have provided as a response to my Facebook comment.

“We have changed the disclaimer so it reflects our updated data privacy policy.”

OK, so this response wasn’t earth shattering, but hey, they took the time to respond back and their response is definitely accurate and to the point.

Here is a screenshot of the Novo Nordisk privacy policy update post on LinkedIn.  Personally, I found the imagery spoke volumes and was very well chosen:

Novo Nordisk -privacy - LinkedIn


And here is the link to the Novo Nordisk privacy policy update in its entirety.  I have copied a few excerpts of their policy below;

Privacy disclaimer and community guidelines for Novo Nordisk’s social media accounts

We welcome and encourage your participation and engagement. When you engage with us on social media, you also agree to follow our disclaimer and community guidelines that explain how we use data and the restrictions of our social media pages.

Thank you for your understanding and for ensuring that your comments fit within these guidelines. While we reserve the right to remove any posting at its sole discretion, we are working to foster openness and dialogue and will therefore only remove comments that violate these guidelines.


Privacy disclaimer
1. The information we collect

We collect information for statistically purposes that can help us improve our communication. When you follow us on social media or engage in our content (via likes, shares, comments etc.) we automatically collect this information and use it to inform us if our content is relevant, where our visitors come from, what they look for and act on, and where the most time is spent. The information we gather about impressions and engagement does not include any personally identifiable information.
2. Collection of sensitive data

We do not collect or retain sensitive personal data relating to your health, ethnic origin, religious beliefs or political conviction etc. on social media. In the rare case where we do seek to collect other sensitive data we will do so in strict compliance with local data privacy law.


6. Information provided ”as is”

The information on our social media sites is provided “as is” and we make no representations or warranties, expressed or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose or noninfringement.

We make no representations or warranties of any kind as to the completeness, accuracy, timeliness, availability, functionality and compliance with applicable laws.

By following our accounts you accept the risk that the information may be incomplete or inaccurate or may not meet your needs or requirements.


Community guidelines
1. Product mentions and medical advice

Due to the nature of our industry, we cannot talk about certain topics with you online. If that is the case, we will let you know and provide others means in which to connect.
Our social media accounts are not intended for discussions about products made by Novo Nordisk A/S including the reporting of side effects associated with the use of prescription drugs.

Any questions or comments specific to products should be made to your healthcare professional.

Social media is not a place for us to provide healthcare advice. If you have questions about your health or the medicine you take, your doctor or health care provider is the person to ask. If you have issues with our medicines (an adverse event), or if you have a product inquiry or complaint, please contact Novo Nordisk’s office in the country you live.

For other comments or feedback please contact us via content (messages) on our accounts that is managed by colleagues in Novo Nordisk in Denmark, on behalf of our colleagues across the organisation.

2. Tone of voice

We welcome comments and questions and try to join the conversation whenever possible. However, we may remove any comments that: (1) are off-topic; (2) are inappropriate, vulgar or abusive; (3) are intended to spam; (4) reference a product; (5) solicit or offer medical advice; or (6) otherwise violates our community guidelines.

3. Information purposes

The content posted on our accounts is presented solely for informational purposes. The accounts do not provide you with advice or recommendation of any kind and should not be relied on as the basis for any decision or action. You are advised to consult professional advisors in the appropriate field with respect to the applicability of any particular aspect of the contents. In particular, nothing being posted constitutes an invitation or offer to invest or deal in Novo Nordisk securities.

Further, our accounts provide selected information of diseases and their treatment. Such information is not intended as medical advice and cannot substitute for the advice of a health care professional. If you have or suspect having any health problems, you should consult your general practitioner or other qualified health provider.


5. Replies, comments and direct messages

We welcome feedback and ideas from all our followers, and encourage you to join the conversation where possible. We will read all replies, comments and messages and ensure that any emerging themes or helpful suggestions are passed to the relevant people in our organisation.

Thanks for reading and for connecting with us.


***  Leave me a comment below to let me know if this information was helpful and if you like seeing examples of privacy policies and community guidelines by pharma and healthcare organizations.

Prescription Drug Promoted on LinkedIn

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a prescription product promoted on LinkedIn.  Now I’m sure there have been some and I’ve just missed them, but since this was my first time seeing one, I thought that perhaps there might be others who haven’t seen this and would be interested in seeing an example.

This month, I have seen ads for Ozempic(R) by Novo Nordisk on LinkedIn on several occasions. Ozempic is an injectable prescription product which is indicated for the once weekly treatment of adult patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus to improve glycemic control.  Here is the Canadian Ozempic product monograph by Novo Nordisk for those who would like more information about this product.

I have seen 2 versions of the Ozempic ad on LinkedIn. The wording and image (brand logo) are identical, except the layout is different.  You can see them below.  The ads are simple, but the mechanism used to communicate directly to healthcare professionals is creative:

Ozempic ad on LinkedIn v2

Ozempic ad on LinkedIn

Since LinkedIn is a public, non-gated site, any ads on this site would be considered direct-to-consumer advertising.  In Canada, when promoting a prescription product to the public in general, only the product name, price and quantity can be mentioned.  The Ozempic LinkedIn ads follow those regulations.

However, based on the verbiage of the ad, it is obvious that Novo Nordisk is not targeting consumers.  They are solely targeting Canadian physicians with this ad, but they still need to treat the ad as a direct-to-consumer ad since it could be viewed by consumers who could then click on the link.

The Ozempic website that one gets directed to when clicking on the ad is gated and can only be accessed by either a physician, nurse or pharmacist who can provide their licence number.  This is considered appropriate gating of a website by Health Canada.

Ozempic ad on LinkedIn - link to website

I don’t have access to the views and clicks that Novo Nordisk is getting for these ads, but in general, most of us know that LinkedIn is a network for business people, and that includes healthcare professionals.  As such, I think it makes sense for Novo Nordisk to at least give LinkedIn a try for its advertising.  It is clearly an innovative means to get their message out to target healthcare professionals and the ad is implemented within the regulatory confines of the Canadian pharmaceutical industry.  Novo Nordisk may also be advertising on physician-specific sites such as Sermo and targeting Canadian physicians, but perhaps they are focusing on LinkedIn as a start since the advertising fees on Sermo are quite steep, however they can offer repetitive visibility to your specific target.

If you are managing a product that is targeted to healthcare professionals, don’t discard social media sites just because of regulatory restrictions.  You may have to test a few variations and different sites, but there is a way to communicate your message to your target audience.  Congratulations to Novo Nordisk for trying out a newer way of communicating directly with healthcare professionals.

A Pharmacy Facebook Party

I remember when my children were younger, it seemed like all the parenting blogs were hosting Twitter and Facebook parties to generate awareness and sales for their clients.  Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see nearly as many Facebook or Twitter parties promoted as I used to.

But a few weeks ago, I saw a Shoppers Drug Mart Facebook party being promoted on Facebook.  I did not participate in the party, but since one of my objectives for this blog is to inspire healthcare organizations to use social media and digital marketing to reach their audience and achieve their objectives, I thought it would be worth posting a few screenshots of the Shoppers Drug Mart Facebook party.  See bottom of blog post.

The objective of the Shoppers Drug Mart Facebook party was to promote women’s mental health and to recruit women for their upcoming Run For Women event.  Very clever!

SDM RunForWomen FB ad

Shoppers Drug Mart promoted the hashtags #SHOPPERSLOVEYOU and #RunForWomen during the Facebook party.  If you are not familiar with hashtags, these are a great way to create a conversation and to help others find conversations about your topic.  According to, one of my favorite sites for tracking hashtag data, the #SHOPPERSLOVEYOU hashtag has a good momentum going on whereas the hashtag #RunForWomen had a slight increase for a couple of weeks, but now it is back to being flat and barely used.  Both hashtags have been tweeted mostly by Shoppers Drug Mart and other users tended to be concentrated in Canada.

ShoppersLoveYou hashtag

Shoppers Drug Mart has also been promoting their run for women via Facebook ads.

ShoppersLoveYou ad

Here are the screenshots of their Facebook party event invitation and a few others.  If ever your organization wants to create buzz around an event, why not try to host a Facebook and/or Twitter party.  It could be a great hook for your real objective.

SDM Facebook party 1SDM Facebook party - welcomeSDM Facebook party - thank you at endSDM Facebook party - FB story

Congratulations Iodine! 2018 Webby Winner in the Health Category

Iodine 4 - WebbyThe 2018 Webby winners have been announced! Congratulations to Iodine , the 2018 Webby winner of the Health category.  If you don’t already know this site, it’s well worth taking a few moments to go through it because it certainly has a lot of positive features.

The Iodine site was launched on September 30, 2014.  It is a user-friendly website that allows users to search for information on drugs and over-the-counter products. Once the user has found the product page that they are looking for, they will find all sorts of information about that particular medication based on a mixture of clinical research and real-life experience; benefits, adverse events, how to use, information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people’s experience and reviews about their usage of the product, pictures of the product and even alternatives to that product.  There is so much information, but yet it’s all in a really easy to use format and easy to understand language and it really does not feel overwhelming at all.  The data is credible as it all comes from the FDA and the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Although the team behind the Iodine site is quite small, what they lack for in numbers they more than make up for in experience.  According to their website, many of the people who started the Iodine site are engineers and designers that used to work on Flu Trends at Google, which unfortunately are no longer publishing current data.  According to the Iodine About page on their blog, their mission is to “help people find what works best for them” and their goal is “to become the most useful and trusted resource for medication information on the planet”. Wow, that is some lofty goal but I have a feeling that if somebody can pull it off, it just might be the team behind Iodine.

Now that we understand the site a bit better, let’s go through a little analysis of the site to see what is it that makes this site so great that it won a 2018 Webby in the health category!

For starters, according to Alexa, visitors to the Iodine website tend to be mostly females with college education who either stay at home or work outside of the home.  The daily page views per visitor is 1.2 and visitors spend an average of 1 minute and 54 seconds on the site, which is well above the average of 15 seconds according to HubSpot; “55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on your website”.

Iodine 1

Here are some of the features of the Iodine website which make it stand out.

✅ Clear objective

The Iodine website has a clear objective, to provide information to Americans about various prescription and other-the-counter drugs. Visitors from other countries would benefit from this site as well, except that some information is very specific to the U.S. pharmaceutical market. Other than the fact that sometimes the brand name might not be the same from country to country, the Iodine website lists prices for the drugs, provides coupons (to be used in the U.S.) and references the FDA.

✅ Functional

Iodine achieves its goal because it is chock full of relevant information about the medication, all of which is presented in an aesthetically pleasing format and is easy for consumers and patients to understands, whether they are medically literate or not. This is paying off for Iodine because according to Alexa, the Iodine website is the 79,499 most popular website on the internet.  Now that may not seem impressive, but when you consider that there are over 1.8 billions websites out there, that figure looks pretty good all of a sudden. However, being a website targeted to Americans, it is interesting to note that within the United States, ranks at 21,230, which is definitely something to brag about. The site also ranks at an impressive 25,233 in Canada!

✅ Easy to navigate

Within a few seconds, you will most likely find what it is that you are looking for.  It’s really that easy.  The tabs are clearly marked and are readily visible. You just go to the tab of interest and scroll or click away.  It is very intuitive.

✅ Speed

I have been on this site a few times from both my laptop and smartphone, and the site always loads reliably and quickly.  There are a few graphs but no heavy images that slow you down.  GTmetrix and DareBoost report the homepage load time to be 5.3 seconds and 5.7 seconds respectively.

✅ Reliability

According to an analysis by Power Mapper, the Iodine website does not have any broken links.

✅ Search

According to an analysis by Power Mapper, there are no search issues with Google, but the titles and meta descriptions are too long to be optimal on Yahoo and Bing.

❌ Social component

Although the site allows feedback from people who have used a specific drug, the format of the site is not conducive to generating a conversation. I do appreciate the ability to filter the reviews based on being a female, age and condition being treated.  It allows one to find a patient similar to oneself.

Although Iodine has social sites which it communicates from, such as its presence on Twitter Facebook and its blog (which has not been updated since October 2017), none of its web pages seem to have any sharing icons such as Facebook, Twitter or other.  This might have been done intentionally due to the seriousness of keeping their visitors’ privacy intact since they are looking up details about medications which could provide insight into their health conditions.  Or maybe it’s just an oversight, or it  has not been a priority.

This site is most useful for American patients and consumers, but it could expand its audience to healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical / health industry workers.

What do you think of the Iodine website?  Leave us your comments.


Iodine 2


Iodine 3


J&J Live Facebook Video – #ChampionsOfScience Competition

J&J went live on Facebook yesterday to share their Champions of Science, The Lab Coat of the Future finalists’ competition.  It was completely unbranded and simply focused on science. Their key message was that the lab coat is an integral symbol of innovation and science, yet it has not been updated in over a century. The objective of the competition was to grant the group with the best idea to innovate the lab coat with a $50,000 award.

My interest in this tactic is not the content of the video nor the objective of the competition itself, but rather the means that J&J chose to host the grand finale of the competition; via Facebook live video.

J&J Live FB

This was a well chosen medium because it made it ideal to promote the event and create hype for it online, meaning that a much larger audience could hear and learn about it.  It also created the potential for a much, much larger audience than would have been possible had the event been held in front of a live audience only.  This allowed over 11K views of the live Facebook video.  The finalists must have appreciated this large audience, whether they won or not, because it means that their work was made visible to a much larger audience and potentially to an investor as well.

When Mark Zuckerberg announced the new Facebook algorithm that would allow people to focus on their friends’ posts, he did allude to the face that live Facebook videos would still be a priority feature on page followers’ homepages.  Live Facebook videos remain a method of reaching a lot of eyeballs, and it is still free.  Keep in mind that when you have over 776K followers like J&J’s Facebook page, the odds would definitely be in your favor for getting a large online audience.

Note that there were no ads listed under their ad tab on the day of the live Facebook video.  It is not known if they had advertised on Facebook days prior to their live broadcast.  I am not certain if J&J took advantage of the Facebook stories feature when they were promoting their live broadcast.  If so, then I missed it.  If not, then I would certainly recommend that to whoever is hoping to replicate this type of activity.

A live Facebook video also has the option of living on, getting engagement from viewers during the broadcast as well as afterwards.  For example, after almost 24 hours after the live J&J Champions of Science broadcast, the video was viewed over 11K times, has been shared 146 times, received 465 reactions (all positive or neutral) and 225 comments.

J&J Live FB 1

The live broadcast was even talked about on Twitter with the hashtag #ChampionsOfScience, with 559 posts by 235 users (Source: Keyhole). There are 127 Instagram posts with the hashtag #ChampionsOfScience , however many of these are either from a much earlier date and a few seemed to be completely unrelated to the event.

On a personal note, I hope that we will see more pharmaceutical events such as this one showcased live on Facebook, because this will show the general public that pharma companies do a lot of good work within their communities, and often do not get recognized for them.  Kudos to J&J!

Congratulations to the winners and best of luck to the two other finalists in finding another investor for your ideas.

Facebook Ads Case Study: Movember Foundation Canada

Thanks to the new Facebook advertising transparency, Canadians can see all current ads from any Facebook page.  As such, I thought I would do a Facebook ads case study of the Movember Foundation Canada Facebook advertising activity during the month of November.

In my opinion, Movember Foundation Canada really did a great job in promoting their cause on Facebook during the month of November.  The following is a quick analysis of their advertising campaign, but if you are just curious to see samples of their ads, then go straight to the bottom of this blog post.

Objective of Facebook advertising:

The objective of their ad campaign was obvious and consistent – to promote the importance of men’s health and generate donations.

Focused advertising message:

Their advertising message was able to grab the audience’s attention because it was short and impactful.  For example, even though they had multiple ads on Facebook running simultaneously, the majority of their ads had quick statistics about men’s health that were really hard to ignore.  The consistency of their message was also well done.  Not only was their message consistent from ad to ad, even though the wording was slightly different, the imagery and font were consistent as well.  After having seen a few of their ads, you could spot one of their new ads a mile away just by glancing at them, and that’s what you want as an advertiser – quick recognition and instant recall.  You want people to gain some familiarity with your brand, and frequency and consistency of messaging is key.  That is the key to recall and a great start towards brand attachment.

Emotional component:

Although some of their ads were more of a direct reminder to donate, the majority of their ads provided frightening statistics about men’s health.  You couldn’t help but think of the men in your life, and how you did not want them to end up being one of those statistics.

Images in Facebook ads:

Movember Canada ads used a lot of imagery that were consistent, yet used interchangeably.  Sometimes they used imagery of proud men with mustaches, sometimes the men were with their children, partner and father.  But the man with the mustache was always the centre of attention.

Video in Facebook ads:

I really liked that they used various videos as well.  Many of the videos were either just a few seconds or below the 30 second mark, which was long enough to get their message across, but short enough to for even those with short-attention span to watch the video.  I don’t have statistics for the Movember campaign, but from other ad studies, we know that people lack attention therefore the shorter the video, the more likely people will watch it in its entirety.

Donate Button in Facebook ads:

Movember Canada had a clear call to action with their Facebook ads, and that was made clear to the audience with their frequent usage of the Donate button.  Of course it is more likely for a viewer of an ad to take action if that action is made clear to them and is easy to accomplish.  Facebook provides various call to action buttons on their ads.  Take advantage of them and use them when you place an ad on Facebook.  Some call-to-action buttons, such as the donate button, are for specific page categories.  For example, only pages that are under the not-for-profit category may have access to the donate button.  And even then, you may not have access to the button that you want as Facebook may be rolling them out over time.

CEO had a message in a Facebook video ad:

Too few companies take advantage of their own people when it comes to videos posts and video ads.  Your people are the ones who are the most passionate about your cause.  Those who are passionate will appeal to your target audience.  Hats off to the Movember Foundation Canada CEO who took the time to leave a personal message to the target audience.  We hope to see more of that from other organizations as well.  If clients or donors get to know you on a personal level, you will have an opportunity to tap into their emotional side and typically this will make your clients / donors like you that much more.  The downside, of course, is that if there is a lot of turnover that is perceived by the target audience, they will wonder what is going on and they might not always feel as attached to one person as they do to another.

Reminder of deadline:

During the final week of November, Movember placed several ads reminding its target audience that there were only 3, 2 or 1 days left before the end of Movember, again with a call to action button to donate.  This was a clever way to work on the emotional side of those within their audience that work best under pressure, trying to get in as many last donations as possible.

What could have they done better?

Overall, the Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ad campaign seemed to be well coordinated and implemented.  We cannot comment on the effectiveness of the ad campaign because we do not have access to their analytics, but we can make an educated assumption that the organization was happy with the results, because they had the option to do less or even stop the ads, but they kept up their advertising level which indicates that Movember Foundation Canada was at the very least satisfied in reaching their objective.

There was a contest advertised during the month of November.  That seemed to have gotten lost with all the other ads taking place during that time.  However, this was not the focus of the advertising objective.  It is clear that the objective was to raise donations, so it is easy to see why this contest was not advertised to the same degree as the donation ads.

Personally, I would have liked to see a few ads of women and children talking about their father, husband, grandfather, uncle, friend, etc…  I mention this because I was part of their targeted audience.  On many occasions, I saw their ads pop up on my Facebook account, and several other online networks.  This was fine, except I felt many of the ads were talking to my husband, my brother, their buddies, and so on.  I would have liked to have seen perhaps 10% of their ads with women promoting better health options for the men in their lives.  My point is, if you’re going to include me in your target audience, then talk directly to me, at least from time to time.

What did Movember Foundation Canada get out of their Facebook ad campaign?:

With the multiple variations of ads created for their Movember campaign, I am certain that Movember Foundation Canada has a much better idea of the text and imagery that best appeals to their target audience.  Without their advertising statistics, it is difficult for us to evaluate which ads worked best for them, but considering that they went strong throughout the month with all these ad variations, three things can be assumed with a fair amount of certainty:

  1. Movember Foundation Canada knows what appeals to their target audience more than ever before.
  2. Movember Foundation Canada probably knows how to customize their targeting options in order to reach their ideal target audience more than before.
  3. Movember Foundation Canada probably did pretty good in terms of receiving donations from this campaign, because they obviously spent a fair amount of money on it and if it had not produced enough donations, they either would have reduced or stopped their campaign efforts.  This was not the case.  To the contrary, although I do not know how much they spent on their Facebook ads or how far their reach was for their targeted audience, I do know that they maintained a high level of ad variations throughout the month, which indicates to me that they were at the very least satisfied with the results.

Here are samples of their ad variations that were seen on Facebook throughout the month of November.  Note that they advertised on various other online and traditional media as well, but the focus of this blog post consists of their Facebook ad campaign.

Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ads:  Quick message and statistics


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Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ads featuring images with men:


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Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ads to encourage last minute donations:


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Movember Foundation Canada Facebook ads featuring CEO and ambassador:


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Note that I am not affiliated with Movember Foundation Canada nor its marketing agency. None of these ads were created by me. I am acting strictly as a viewer who was impressed with what they saw and thought others could learn from this as well.

What did you like the best of their Facebook ad campaign, and what would you have changed?  Leave us a comment below.