There has been a slow, but steady march into YouTube-land by pharmaceuticals. Two new companies were added to the growing roster of pharma on YouTube with three new channels added.
First – Novartis added a new channel simply called Novartis's Channel, which is featuring patient stories. The stories are about patients that have been diagnosed with a range of diseases – from cancer to kidney disease, including one patient who suffered twice from dengue fever. The channel was opened on August 7 and has 21 subscribers thus far and has had 2263 channel views. The comments are apparently not disabled, but the site does not allow its videos to be embedded and ratings are also disabled.
Boehringer Ingelheim has added two new channels – one that is corporate called Boehringer Ingelheim's Channel (must have collaborated with Novartis on the naming front) and one that devoted to Parkinson's Disease called Parkinson's Matters. That brings to two the number of channels sponsored by pharmaceutical companies on the subject of Parkinson's Disease with Teva opening the first Parkinson's channel TevaNeuroHealth. They each currently house a single video. Comments are not disabled and the sites allow embedding and ranking of videos.
While it is heartening to see greater participation by pharma in the video space, the success of these channels has varied greatly and several companies have obviously developed the channels without any idea of what they would like to do with them and some of the channels show obvious signs of neglect.
For example most companies have not integrated the channels into a broader communications effort and therefore are not driving traffic to the site nor are they attracting subscribers. Many companies have treated the channels like static Web sites rather than as an effort to create something dynamic with a clear, stated purpose. And many companies have failed to "socialize" the site by making "friends" with other channels and subscribing to other channels of interest – indicating that perhaps there is no one really held accountable for the maintenance of the channel. Some, in fact, are in a shambles.
To date, the most successful channels have been the most stylized ones – from AstraZeneca with their branded MyAsthmaStory channel which has had nearly 80,000 channel views, though only 81 subscribers, and from Sanofi-Aventis with their Goinsulin channel which as had over 277,000 channel views and 518 subscribers and with 112 friends, there has been a real effort to socialize the channel. And the daddy of them all is the newly redesigned Johnson & Johnson effort JNJHealth, which has certainly been the most volume of any channel. The company has made the site highly socialized with over 300 friends and has had over 118,000 channel views.
For companies to get the most of their channels and the most for their brands, there are strategies to adopt. But it is important to realize that to stick up a channel and not maintain is also a reflection on the brand.