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Significant variation found in pharma's use of social media

High spending on traditional promotional channels not a guarantee of social media success 

Pharma companies' spending on traditional promotional channels is not a clear indicator of how well they perform on social media, according to a new study.

Cegedim Strategic Data ranked the top pharma companies' use of Facebook and Twitter, using numbers of 'Likes' and followers, and compared this with their spend on traditional promotional channels.

The market research company found Pfizer, currently the world's largest pharma company, had the biggest global spend on traditional promotional spending, and was present in the top spots for social media presence.

The company was ranked first on Twitter, where its main @pfizer_news account has over 22,000 followers, and third for Likes on Facebook with more than 43,000.

But Novartis, which Cegedim says is pharma's second biggest spender on traditional promotional, lagged behind in fifth position on Twitter with nearly 19,000 followers and 17th position for Likes on Facebook (over 11,000).

Meanwhile, Merck & Co – in third position worldwide for traditional promotional spending – has contrasting fortunes for social media activity.

Its performance on Facebook is very difficult to analyse, following changes to its page after a spat with its German namesake that appeared to re-set its Like count, but on Twitter Merck & Co ranks a comparatively lowly 15th for the number of followers.

Christopher Wooden, VP of promotion audits for Cegedim Strategic Data, said the study showed significant variations in the coverage, methods and sophistication of major life science companies' use of social media.

“In broad terms we see an attempt by companies to reach out and create a positive, on-going message about their contribution to better health. The ability to target that message and encourage constructive dialogue through social media will bring value to companies developing this new channel."

One company to have used Twitter in particular to help it punch above its weight is Roche. The Swiss pharma firm is ranked 15th by promotional spend, but its widely regarded @roche_com Twitter account is in second position for the number of followers.

Cegedim's social network analysis was conducted during November 2011 and focused on the top 100 pharmaceutical companies in terms of traditional sales force and marketing channel spending. The firm then identified the top 30 pharmaceutical companies for Facebook and for Twitter based on their presence and healthcare-focused activities.

20th December 2011

From: Marketing

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