By now, it should be evident that social media platforms can help pharmaceutical brands build meaningful connections with patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers. 

However, with so many competing platforms, deciding where to allocate resources can be a challenge. You can pursue social networks (Facebook, Twitter), opt for media-rich sites (YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, or Tik-Tok), or post information to content-sharing platforms (Reddit). 

To select the platform that will reach your target audience most effectively, you’ll need to understand the nuances of where you’re advertising. In addition to having unique advertising rules, each platform uses its own ad formats and attracts differing audience demographics. 

We’ve provided a rundown of each option below to help inform your decision. Keep in mind, though, that demographics are just one component of any social media platform. Each platform has its own culture, which needs to be acknowledged in your advertising.

A case for using social media in pharmaceutical marketing

According to the Pew Research Center, just 5% of American adults used social media in 2005. In 2021, that number rose to 72%

Social media isn’t just for younger audiences, either. While 84% of 18 to 29-year-olds use at least one social media site, 45% of people 65+ are on social media, too (2021). 

No matter whom you’re looking to reach as a pharmaceutical brand marketer, your audience is on at least one of these platforms. And nearly all social media platforms allow pharmaceutical brand advertising (Pinterest and LinkedIn are notable exceptions). 

The number of social media users across demographics presents a clear opportunity for pharmaceutical brands to reach nearly anyone who could benefit from their outreach efforts, including patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers. 

These same platforms have targeting options that help you narrow your reach to the people who need your information the most. In addition to the precise targeting available, you’ll be able to track engagement data on these sites, allowing you to refine your targeting and messaging over time. 

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to reach patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers in a way that feels organic to them. Whether your pharmaceutical ad appears in a news feed on Facebook, is listed as a suggested video on YouTube, or shows up as a post in a Subreddit, your ad has the opportunity to serve as a natural (and unintrusive) part of the online experience. 

Before advertising on social media, understand your pharmaceutical brand’s audience and values

As noted in our pharmaceutical ad strategy guide, when choosing which platforms your pharma brand will advertise on, you’ll need to have some information already: 

  • Know who your audience is (age, gender, interests, and behaviors). Some platforms attract a younger audience and would have few HCPs. Other platforms attract niche communities, offering opportunities to reach narrowly targeted audiences, such as rare disease communities, and HCP specific groups. 
  • You’ll need to know what resources you have available (photos, videos, content). Most platforms require visual media. Other avenues work best with long-form content. If the required resources are unavailable, you may consider hiring an outside ad agency that specializes in pharmaceutical content. 
  • Finally, you’ll need to understand your brand’s values. Each platform contains its own identity and values, and you’ll want to make sure it is appropriate to your brand image. 

Once you’ve clearly defined your brand and audience, you’re ready to assess the merits of advertising on each social platform.

User demographics, by social media platform

You can use our demographics data to help you determine which platform(s) work best for your pharmaceutical brand’s campaign. 


Used by nearly 69% of adults in the U.S., Facebook is a place where people connect with communities, share insights into their lives, mingle with friends, and catch up on the latest news. 

Users contribute a mix of photos, videos, and text to the platform, making it a flexible place for advertisers to utilize their assets. 

User demographics for Facebook in the U.S.

You should consider advertising on Facebook for your pharmaceutical brand if your goals include: 

  • Gathering data about your most engaged patients, HCPs, or caregivers
  • Reaching a narrow audience (for example, advertising an orphan drug)
  • Reaching your existing Facebook page followers
  • Growing your Facebook followers and engagement
  • Generating brand lift and/or brand awareness 
  • Driving conversions on a patient education or HCP websites


Owned by Facebook, Instagram is an image-sharing platform that attracts a younger audience than Facebook. Most users are 18-34. Very few users are 55+. 

Since Facebook owns Instagram, if you advertise on Facebook, you can choose to reach Instagram users, too. That said, if your goal is to reach an older audience like retired seniors or mid-career HCPs, you may want to opt-out of Instagram altogether. 

User statistics for Instagram in the U.S.

You should consider advertising on Instagram for your pharmaceutical brand if your goals include: 

  • Reaching patients, healthcare providers, and caregivers who are younger than 45 years old. 
  • Improving overall brand awareness and brand lift
  • Influencing consideration or brand selection
  • Driving conversions on patient or HCP education websites


One of the fastest-growing social media platforms, Tik-Tok offers visitors an endless feed of user-generated videos to its increasingly diverse audience. Once a platform nearly exclusive to teens, the platform now attracts users in all age ranges. Note: Tik-Tok does not allow pharmaceutical or drug product advertising. That said, this platform is useful for building an organic reach. 

User demographics for Tik-Tok in the U.S.

  • Number of users: Expected to reach 79.6 million in 2022 and 84.4 million by 2023. 
  • Age of users: About 25% of users are 10-19 years old, 22.4% are 20-29 years old 21.7% are 30-39 years old, 20.3% are 40-49 years old, and 11% are 50+ years old (March 2021). 
  • Gender: 61% of Tik-Tok users are female

You should consider marketing on Tik-Tok for your pharmaceutical brand if your goals include: 

  • Reaching patients and caregivers who are younger than 50 years old 
  • Being viewed as a modern and trendy pharmaceutical brand
  • Improving overall brand awareness and brand lift
  • Influencing consideration or brand selection for medications and treatments 


Perhaps best known for stirring drama among brands and celebrities, Twitter is a platform made for short sentences and a get-to-the-point approach to conversation.

Notably, 27% of users are 30-49, and 25% are 50+, making this platform a friendly gathering place for millennial, generation X, and boomer adults. 

User demographics for Twitter in the U.S.

  • Number of users: 77.75 million
  • Age of users: About 42% of people ages 18-29 say they use Twitter. In addition, 25% of people 50+ say they use Twitter.
  • Gender of users: 24% of women use Twitter, compared with 21% of men 

You should consider advertising on Instagram for your pharmaceutical brand if your goals include: 

  • Reaching patients, healthcare providers, or caregivers from 25-64 years old
  • Increasing traffic to a branded or unbranded website
  • Reaching a primarily male audience 


If your target market is online, it’s safe to assume they frequent YouTube. Owned by Google, YouTube is a video sharing platform enjoyed by 72% of all internet users in the U.S. 

Internet users visit YouTube to watch videos covering virtually any topic imaginable, including entertainment, news, educational, and tutorial videos. Videos are uploaded to YouTube by brands, companies, and individuals, who are nicknamed “creators.”

User statistics for YouTube in the U.S. 

  • Number of YouTube users: Expected to reach 220 million users in 2022
  • Age of YouTube users: With nearly all adult internet users using YouTube, the age range runs across the spectrum. While more than 77% of U.S. adults 15-35 say they use YouTube, 67% of adults 56+ use the same platform. 
  • Gender of YouTube users: The average YouTube user is just as likely to be male or female.

You should consider advertising on YouTube for your pharmaceutical brand if your goals include: 

  • Reaching nearly any adult in the U.S. with compelling video content
  • Targeting user personas who are likely to view videos on specific channels or topics
  • Increasing brand awareness and communicating company values
  • Collaborating with a YouTube Creator or Influencer to promote a patient education website or resource


Known for its augmented reality (AR) filters and 24-hour user-generated content, Snapchat is a platform where the 34 or younger crowd goes to edit images and videos and share the resulting content with friends. 

User demographics for Snapchat in the U.S. 

You’re unlikely to find many Gen Xers or Baby Boomers on Snapchat, so if the patients, caregivers, or healthcare providers you’re targeting are in the 45+ demographic, you may want to consider a different platform. 

On the other hand, if you’re advertising to younger consumers seeking solutions for conditions like allergies and skin conditions, Snapchat may be an appropriate medium for your pharmaceutical brand.

  • Number of users: 79.7 million in 2018 (United States)
  • Age of users: Snapchat’s users tend to be younger (most are 18-35 years old). In fact, nearly all (78%) of adults 18-35 say they use Snapchat, compared with 34% of adults older than 35. Just 5% of adults 56+ use Snapchat. 
  • Gender of users: More women tend to use Snapchat (55.6%) compared with men (43.9%) 

You should consider advertising on SnapChat for your pharmaceutical brand if your goals include: 

  • Reaching patients and caregivers who are under 36 years old
  • Testing interactive content like AR lenses with younger audiences
  • Being seen as a current, in-the-know brand 
  • Generating downloads for an app


Reddit is a content-sharing platform comprised of networks of communities (called Subreddits) segmented by interest. On Reddit, you’ll find communities sharing advice about specific health conditions, like diabetes and chronic fatigue syndrome. You’ll find physician assistants and nurses sharing camaraderie among their peers. 

A potential advantage of advertising on Reddit is the ability to target niche communities. But, if the communities are too small, you won’t be able to target them. One customer service representative said that only the top 5,000 Subreddits can be targeted, making the platform challenging for rare disease communities. 

User statistics for Reddit in the U.S. 

  • Age of Reddit users: Reddit users skew towards a younger audience, with 21% of users 10-19 years old, 28.1% 20-29 years old, and 26.1% 30-39 years old.
  • Gender of Reddit users: In 2021, about 62.8% of Reddit users worldwide were male, although it’s worth noting the platform has subreddits with a mostly female audience. 

You should consider advertising on Reddit for your pharmaceutical brand if your goals include: 

  • Reaching gen Z and millennials (18-39)
  • Targeting a primarily male audience
  • Targeting people in niche communities

The bottom line about social media advertising for pharmaceutical brands 

The platforms listed above can make pharma brands more approachable and humanize the customer journey in ways that were impossible even ten years ago. Social platforms today provide a space where users and advertisers can share information, resources and connect on a one-to-one basis.

When included as part of your broader digital marketing and advertising strategy, you’ll be in a position to glean insights based on real users, achieve your online advertising goals, and establish meaningful connections with potential patients, caregivers, and HCPs.