Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify key social medial channels which pharmaceutical firms need to consider when desiring to understand consumer behavior, build, maintain and proactively manage relationships. Also, it proposes the application of analytic hierarchy process (AHP) sensitivity analysis algorithm to test the stability or robustness of the priority ranking. Specifically, this paper leverages performance sensitivity analysis to evaluate how small changes (perturbation) in the major objectives of the pharmaceutical relationship marketing (PRM) tactics within the social media environment will influence the ranking of the alternative course of actions. Design/methodology/approach: This paper used AHP-based questionnaire survey to evaluate the relative importance of factors accounting for PRM and the impact of social media channels. The major objectives and the alternative strategies used were from literature reviewed. Interviews with senior managers were insightful and helpful in the wording, content and format of the questionnaire. Findings: Customer engagement is the most important PRM tactic, followed by communication and trust. The performance sensitivity analysis carried out on the PRM tactics showed that the ranking associated with social media channel options remained robust or insensitive to small perturbations. Research limitations/implications: The data procured for this paper were based on one focal pharmaceutical firm. Convincing the same to grant an interview and late responding to the questionnaire was a great challenge. Practical implications: Social media impact on pharmaceutical marketing relationship is important for pharmaceutical marketers. PRM bodes well with the social media environment. Pharmaceutical industry can build and maintain relationships with consumers through social media. Firms that leverage social media to enhance their PRM tactics will be viewed favorably in terms of trust, transparency, openness and honesty. The results provide pharmaceutical marketing managers with insightful and valuable information with respect to the role or social media impact on the PRM. The AHP model, objectives and their relative importance provide valuable information for managers on how to monitor the values that matters to customers the most. Originality/value: This paper is one of the very few on the PRM and perhaps the first that examines social impact leveraging the AHP model. In addition, this paper contributes to the relationship marketing literature by leveraging a multi-criteria decision-making algorithm to prioritize the most important factors accounting for the PRM strategies. © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.