HCP Social Media Insights 2022

June 2022

Digital Influencers, Drivers, and Pharma

There’s no question social media has come a long way from the early days of social networking platforms such as MySpace and Friendster. Much like the computer or the smartphone, social media is now a vital communication technology. In fact, 3.6 of the 7.8 billion people on earth—roughly half the world—use social media1. That number is projected to be 4.41 billion by 2025. The time is now for pharma marketers to give HCP social media a good, hard look because most of their customers are already there.

Physicians Are Also Social Consumers

Healthcare professionals are joining social media platforms in their professional capacities at the same rate as non-HCP users. According to recent data, 46% of physicians check social media for personal reasons more than three times a day. Additionally, HCPs in Emerging Markets are the most active social media users with 63% checking social media more than three times a day. 2

HCPs are not only leveraging social media for personal reasons but are tapping into the communication channel to connect professionally with patients, other providers and potentially with pharma as well.

As part of our ongoing research project HCP Social Media Marketing Insights, we looked deeper into HCPs professional use of social media and potential opportunities for pharma to engage. Insights were derived from a recent physician survey conducted in partnership with SERMO.

HCP Social Media Behaviors

The main drivers for professional social media use by physicians is to stay up to date on medical news and to network with peers and colleagues.


of physicians stated they follow other physicians on social media for treatment info, personal connections, practice management advice or simply to consume entertaining content.

The engagement level with pharma is a different story however. Not surprisingly, 1 out of 5 US based doctors follow a pharmaceutical company or branded treatment social media account. Of those who do follow a pharma owned account, the top reasons are to stay up-to-date on treatment and clinical data, product launches and clinical trial news.

Another interesting observation on HCP social media use is the blurred lines between personal and professional consumption and sharing. Survey respondents said of the HCP accounts they follow 78% of physicians mix personal and professional posts.

HCP Social Media Platforms

HCPs embrace social media for interactive conversations about subjects that range from clinical trial results to the latest treatment options, to public health and patient care. And they’re not just participating in professional and private HCP communities like Doximity and Sermo, but on public networks like Facebook and Twitter as well.

Obviously, HCP behavior and the type of content they post is dependent upon the context of the platform and audience. There are many gated communities healthcare providers can join for professional use, however, the top three according to physicians are SERMO, Doximity and Medscape.3 Of the public facing social media platforms physicians prefer Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Physicians tend to be more active with posting and sharing content on Twitter and LinkedIn rather than Facebook and other non-HCP platforms.

Social Media Content Drivers

The type of content physicians consume and share are quite similar. The most common types of content relate to treatment information and patient education. The format of content is also important to note as video continues to be a growing medium in social media. 38% of physicians report they regularly follow/subscribe/view videos for professionals online. YouTube is the primary platform used for video content both personally and professionally, however, the most common driver for YouTube engagement is patient education videos.

Looking Forward

We know that doctors and other HCPs crave connection, and that social media can connect groups of HCPs in tremendously valuable ways, yet pharma as an industry has been slow to adapt. Physicians have expressed a desire to engage with pharma through social media. The most common response from HCPs in our recent survey was “There are no good examples of pharmaceutical companies in social media”. Yet, physicians want to connect with pharma in specific ways. They desire more of a customer service connection rather than promotional or transactional. For example, 51% of physicians desired the ability to request Rx samples from pharma for their practice via social media.

A lot of opportunities exist for pharma in social media, which present a lot of questions. What is holding pharma back from providing service through social media channels? What has to change within pharma to make this happen? How exactly do we tailor our messages? How do we connect social platforms to the sales force and systems? How do we partner with social influencers?

We explored these questions and more in our recent HCP Social Media and Influencers Webinar on June 29th. Stay tuned for a follow up summary to the discussion as a continuation of this ongoing project. In the meantime, you can access webinars, interviews, and research summaries related to this project.

2 Sermo “Meet the Social Savvy Physician” n=604
3 DHC HCP Survey with Sermo June 2022 (n=123)

About the Author
christine franklin
Christine Franklin

Christine is the Executive Director of the DHC Group. You can connect with her on LinkedIN.

What to Explore Next
hcp social influencers
As we started to see signs of the pandemic waning in much of the country, we thought it would be a good time to find out whether HCPs’ increased reliance on digital media was going to remain steady, and especially how they are using social as a tool. Read More >>

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest insights & research.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

Receive more DHC content like this directly in your inbox. We will respect your privacy and never sell your information. View our Privacy Policy.

* indicates required