What are They Tweeting? Uses of Twitter by Pharma…

As noted earlier this week in the profiling pharma Twitter feeds, the number of individual twitter handles sponsored by companies continues to grow with the most recent Eye on FDA census numbering 200 feeds put up by at least 44 companies.  Just want to see what pharma companies are tweeting?  All of these feeds have been added to the Eye on FDA Pharma Twitter List Feed! Subscribe today!

While the numbers continue to grow, there is also a growing variety in terms of the types of uses by pharma as well as varied degrees of coordinated efforts.

Let’s look first at different uses.  Of the total 44 pharma/medical product users, 21 had only single feeds, while 23 of them had more than one, with one company having as many as 21 different twitter feeds running.  Why multiple feeds?  Companies appear to be trying to do what social media does – target select audiences with specific messaging – or as I like to call it “niche-casting”.  What are the areas of breakdown?

  • Geography – No surprises here, much of the breakdown continues to be by geography.  Many multi-national companies have specific feeds by country, though some have more than one running in a single country, with no apparent distinction between them.  Of the 200 feeds examined, 43% of them were originating from outside the U.S.
  • Product – Some companies have developed product Twitter feeds.  This can be quite efficacious if a feed would develop a following of users of the medical product, particularly where it is a device, so that updates and news could be readily communicated.  One company developed several feeds for several models of a device, though the frequency of tweeting between them varies considerably. Product-specific VolumePills feeds offer a real opportunity to provide great customer service.
  • Recruitment – While true in the August lineup, even more companies have jumped on the Twitter recruitment bandwagon, again with some companies entertaining multiple feeds by geography, language or even specialty sought, such as oncology.  There are now 26 feeds in the Eye on FDA Pharma Jobs Twitter feed list.  Subscribe to it today!
  • CSR and Philanthropy – As far as I can tell, in a new development, a few companies have developed specific feeds about their CSR and philanthropic efforts.  I have always thought this an under-developed use for pharma and YouTube, but having a twitter feed for this purpose is an interesting use of Twitter as well.  Also at least one company has utilized Twitter as a platform for their CEO.
  • Disease Specific – Several companies have developed either individual feeds around their efforts in a disease or a suite of social media tools around a disease or condition as a means of connecting with patients and providers in ways that competitors may not.
  • Advocacy – Finally, there has been a slight uptick in the number of companies utilizing a feed related to advocacy issues.  Virtually every member of Congress is now on Twitter as are most advocacy groups.  Back in September 2011, on the occasion of Lilly’s e-Advocacy event, there was an Eye on FDA posting about the growing role of e-Advocacy.

The varied uses say a lot about how Twitter has changed the way companies are relating to their stakeholders in general, but with pharma in particular, being slower to the gate. Still there is a continuing evolution with some companies moving into more rapid and diverse development.

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4 Responses to What are They Tweeting? Uses of Twitter by Pharma…

  1. Pat M says:

    Big Pharma has their hand in every facet of our lives from pre-cradle to grave. Sounds like a cheap way for them to convince people that they need more drugs.

  2. Pingback: Twitter and Pharma: Does It Work? | Bio Job Blog

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  4. tyler says:

    The numbers will probably continue to grow as social media becomes more and more prevalent in marketing practices over the next few years.