Could “Facebook Fact Checkers” Correct Healthcare Misinformation?

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a political meme that has been proven to include inaccuracies, and underneath her post appeared a “related article” with a tag noting that this article had been fact-checked and the content of the article basically cleared up all the issues with the nearby meme.  Being a new feature, at least for me (Facebook sometimes rolls out features at different times for different people), there was a bubble caption to explain what I was seeing for the first time. This is what it looked like;

new fact checkers on fb - jan 8 2019

And when I clicked on ‘fact-checker’, here is the explanation that Facebook gave on how Facebook third-party fact-checkers get selected:

new fact checkers on fb - jan 8 2019 - fb explanation of 'fact checker'

Based on the upcoming American election and the ongoing issues with inaccuracies with certain media outlets, my guess is that fact-checkers will be mandated to focus on political articles.  This is purely a hunch, but it seems like a good starting point.  We should all be made aware of what is the truth and what are inaccuracies from a political perspective.

But this got me thinking; wouldn’t it be amazing if there would also be medical fact-checkers letting people know which articles are posting accurate information versus those who aren’t. Remember that meme that used to suggest to people that they should put flour on their burns?  Yikes!  And then real healthcare professionals were telling people not to do that because it could make matters worse.  There are so many other similar examples.  If there was a Fact-Checker for that type of information, it could save people from an unfortunate situation becoming even worse.  But healthcare and pharmaceuticals can be super complex issues.  The information must be accurate and balanced in order to not mislead people.  Not an easy task, but if we take it one bite-size at a time, and correct the popular memes, that would be we worth the effort as it would save some people from unfortunate incidents.

Facebook and Twitter to Make Ads Visible to the Public – Impact on Healthcare and Pharma

Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Twitter will soon be making ads visible to anybody who wants to see them.  Yes, anybody!  Patients, healthcare providers, competitors and advertising regulatory bodies.

This new ad transparency on social media is a result of the Russian ads that were placed on social media during the last American election. Tisk tisk!

Up until now, you saw ads on social media that were targeted to you based on the advertisers’ filters when placing the ad.  But very soon, you will be able to actively search and find ads by specific users with just a click of a button.  This is both exciting and unnerving for advertisers in all industries, including the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

What are the social networks doing to make advertising more transparent?

Facebook, Messenger and Instagram will be starting this process near the end of 2017 in Canada first and then will roll out to the United States by July 2018.  There will be a “View Ads” button to click on a Page to view the ads that the Page is currently running.  As such, all ads will need to be associated with a Page

Twitter will work a bit differently.  There will be an Advertising Transparency Center that will become public in the coming weeks.  From here, you will have access to the following information:

  • All ads that are currently running on Twitter
  • Amount of time that the ads have been running
  • Ad creative
  • Ads targeted to you, as well as personalized information on which ads you are eligible to receive based on targeting

Viewers of the ads on any of these platforms will be able to give immediate feedback and report ads.

So how will this impact social media advertisers within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries?

    • Transparency means that people can see everything, so expect exactly that!  Expect competitors to come snooping around more often to see what you are advertising.  As you will probably use this as an opportunity to do more thorough competitive advertising reviews as well, right?

 

    • In the past, we could only estimate how much a competitor was advertising on social media.  But now we will have access to all the details.  If one realizes that competitors are way more active than what was previously thought, it is possible that we will see a surge in advertising by others, especially if their strategic objective is to target the users of a specific competitive brand.  However, I don’t anticipate this to happen for the Canadian pharmaceutical industry because of the restrictions in direct-to-consumer advertising.  In Canada, it will really still just be the market leaders who will benefit the most from these types of ads.  But in the United States, it is a possibility.

 

    • Expect more feedback and possibly reporting of your ads by either consumers or competitors.  Hopefully you will get positive feedback, but beware, because even your test ads will be visible now.  In speaking with Ad Standards (the organization that reviews Canadian consumer advertising for prescription drugs, OTC, medical devices, natural health products and very soon vaccines as well), they do not expect any significant changes to the number or type of complaints that they usually receive either from consumers or competitors.  Personally, I’m not so sure about that.  Some competitors are fierce about trying to stop advertising by others, but we all know that that usually ends up biting them right back in the you-know-what.  But we all know that some will absolutely be taking that chance anyways.

 

    • Speaking of test ads, we may find that advertisers test for shorter periods of time in order to limit the window of opportunity of competitors seeing their draft ads.  We all know that we need to test our ads, but who wants to do that openly?  We won’t have a choice, but I cannot imagine that many of us will be comfortable with that.

 

These are nothing more than guesses, so it will be interesting to review the impact a year from now to see which of these turned out to be correct and which did not.

Competitive review of social media ads:

Call me crazy, but I love finding healthcare-related ads and analyzing their creative and copy, and now I’ll be able to see a bit of their targeting features as well.  Woohoo!!!  I am looking forward to finding new pharmaceutical and healthcare ads on social media and sharing some of them with you so that you can share your thoughts on them.  Below, you will find a few that I spotted during the past few weeks on Facebook.  Enjoy!

If you would like a thorough social media advertising review for a particular therapeutic area or specific competitors, then please contact me at nat@marketing4health.net .  Truth be told, it would be my absolute pleasure to be your eyes and ears on social media!

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