To fake anything in the health arena (even with clear disclaimers), especially a product or service of real health benefit, is just dumb and unlikely to work. In this case the proof is in the number of ‘likes’, of which there are 57 today, hardly a rip roaring success!
At 12:30 CET on 1 May 2010 a COPY/PASTE of the ‘disclaimer box under the profile picture reads: “ If you haven’t uncovered our secret yet, here it is: Sara isn’t a real person. But she does represent heathcare consumers like you and me. Each of us has our own “Sara Baker” story about a healthcare experience… share yours with us!”
A sane person’s response to the request to ‘share’ with Sara is “NO I WON’T”. Who wants to share a healthcare experience with a person who is made up! The whole idea is just plain stupid. There is also a deadly typo in the disclaimer: I don’t know what a ‘heathcare consumer’ actually is anyway!
OK a typo is forgivable (I might have one in this comment) but I think it just highlights that the whole concept is stupid and shouldn’t set any benchmark in healthcare marketing online :+)
In terms of ethics, making stuff up (faking it) is poor form. In healthcare marketing I believe EVERYTHING should be credible and transparent, which through engagement leads to trust… There are simply too many dodgy (and potentially dangerous) healthcare claims out there on the web already. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for cleaver use of irony in marketing (Sara isn’t ironic by the way), it’s just that wrapping your healthcare product or service in fakery just isn’t healthy for anyone.
This is a comment that Neil Crump, Aurora MD left on an interesting HealthBlawg post about a ‘fake’ FaceBook page being used to market a medical site for patients in the US.
You can have a look at the FaceBook page for yourself: http://www.facebook.com/eSaraBaker