Pharmaceutical Companies Missing Out on Social Media Opportunities

New Research Suggest Big Pharma Not Optimizing Social Media

New research suggests many large pharmaceutical companies are not optimizing online and social media communications to their advantage. According to findings released in the first-ever Worldcom Public Relations Group Digital Health Monitor report on pharmaceuticals, many of the top 25 global firms are missing out on opportunities to reach more stakeholders through country-specific websites, more active blog sites, and better use of LinkedIn.

The research examines how the biggest pharmaceutical firms manage their online and social media presence globally and in 20 countries. It “has uncovered interesting trends and several lost opportunities, and while we recognize there are limitations to what can be said and where it can be said, we recommend a more holistic view be taken with channels available,” said Serge Beckers, chairman of Worldcom’s Healthcare practice group. “Simple steps, such as using YouTube to build the employer brand, can help pharma companies compete in the increasingly tough battle for talent.”

The report ranks each company in terms of its presence on, and use of, apps, blogs, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube. Pfizer came out on top for the use of YouTube, while Novartis ranked as top user for LinkedIn. Also reviewed is the use of these channels by companies at a country-specific level.

The report found that none of the companies used these channels to maximum advantage. For example, on an international scale, they make little use of blogs. Although almost all have a “global blog,” the number of blog posts is fairly modest and localized blogs are rare. Overall, Twitter is preferred to Facebook for mass social media outreach.

The report concludes with five recommendations to improve return on investment from online communications. Companies should:

  1. Ensure there is a careers channel on YouTube where “advocate employees” can post reviews of their experiences to promote an “employer brand.” This will help win the battle for talent.
  2. Review the usage of the digital channels most favored by target audiences and ensure the company brand is present at both a global and local level.
  3. Compare their “digital footprint” to that of their peers and competitors. This audit will help ensure companies are not losing ground by missing opportunities to share permitted information across all available channels.
  4. Invest in each local market through engagement with appropriate local digital channels. This helps demonstrate that companies care about each local market.
  5. Use the analysis from online monitoring to identify topics where it’s essential they have an opinion and share that opinion on a proactive basis.

The study covers 20 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The pharmaceutical companies included in the study are: Abbott, AbbVie, Allergan, Amgen, Astellas Pharma, AstraZeneca, Baxter International, Bayer, Biogen Idec, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, Mylan, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, Shire, Takeda, and Teva Pharmaceutical.

Editor: Gary Cramer