Pharma marketers are being urged to use social media to reach their audience. High up on the list of recommended social media sites is YouTube, where many pharmaceutical companies have launched “channels” and uploaded videos. Among the first to do so was Johnson & Johnson, which has its JNJhealth channel. It’s very nicely done.

The problem is that you cannot control what other videos may be highlighted by YouTube when your video is played OUTSIDE the channel. Let’s look at the YAZ Birth Control’s Channel as an example. You can find it here. It looks like this:

It looks fine in this context. But if you click on “View comments, related videos, and more,” you leave the channel and see the video as a “Generic YouTube Video” as shown below:

Now you can see all the “Related Videos,” many of which are from law firms suing Bayer and spoofs of YAZ TV commercials. Even though Bayer has turned off comments, it cannot prevent viewers from seeing these related videos.

Maybe that’s OK with Bayer. It has a legal obligation to air corrective ads, but I am not sure this is part of that obligation (see “YAZ Commercial Yanked from TV, But Not from YouTube“).

There is a link to the YAZ Birth Control Channel on the US YAZ Web site. Even with that link, the video has been viewed only 412 times and there is only one subscriber to the Channel — me!

The YAZ Birth Control Channel (aka “YazBirthControlPillDiscussion”) looks like it is designed for only one purpose: an in-depth “discussion” of risks and benefits, which I think it does adequately (although 8 minutes is beyond many people’s YouTube attention spans).

Why Bayer chose to put this video on YouTube, where it must compete with negative videos from 3rd parties, is a mystery to me. It’s not getting many views, has no subscribers (except me), and has no promise of future updates. Why not just keep the video on the product web site?

My advice to pharma marketers: Unless you intend to promote a real discussion or upload a series of videos that will enhance the value of your YouTube channel, stay away from YouTube!