Are Facebook’s new disappearing messages a new opportunity for pharma? Not yet, expert says

Facebook Messenger

Taking a page from Snapchat, Facebook ($FB) this week began testing disappearing messages for its Messenger service. But pharma marketers may want to hold off on embracing the new tool.

The “secret conversation” feature was announced on Facebook by David Marcus, the head of Facebook Messenger, who wrote that "providing more ways for people to safely share is an important part of making the world more open and connected. Whether you're asking a doctor for medical advice, sending sensitive account information to your spouse, or even your Social Security Number, it's important to have options available for sharing these kinds of very sensitive messages.”

But in regards to that doctor conversation call-out, are consumers ready to share personal healthcare information--even on disappearing messages? And will pharma follow suit?

Not so fast, said Michael Spitz, VP of digital strategy and business development at Klick Health. Pharma companies should definitely be keeping tabs on new social media communication methods like Facebook’s disappearing messages and Snapchat. But pharma marketers need to balance risk with opportunity, he told FiercePharmaMarketing. For now, Klick is advising its clients to keep up on the new messaging services, but it doesn't recommend implementing the services until they’ve been more thoroughly tested.

“In consumer packaged goods, retail and entertainment there’s already a ton of stuff going on through messenger apps including Snapchat in terms of advertising, contextual messaging and even social media brand relationships and campaigns … But in healthcare and pharma where we’re highly regulated, where we have deep concerns about privacy and security of personal healthcare information and where we have acute reputation management and adverse event reporting issues, we have to be very cautious and for the most part take a wait-and-see-approach with these messaging apps,” Spitz said.

What will begin to happen in pharma, however, is that companies will likely start to use Snapchat and Facebook Messenger first as just another tactic in their media mixes, in the same way they post banner ads or run a search engine campaign as a way to reach out to a targeted audiences, he predicted.

“Pharma, healthcare providers and payer companies are probably last in line for taking advantage of these tools and technologies and the reason is obvious. The risk is highest for them. With all these things going through constant changes, they really need to be road tested first,” he said, adding that "the good news for healthcare marketing is this entire industry is taking privacy and security very seriously from both a technological aspect on the back end, and then on the front end, offering new features that enable these messages to self-destruct or vanish.”

- check out the FB announcement

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