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Pharma social media

Posting frequency is down as companies take a ‘less is more’ approach

For their fourth annual pharma social media landscape report, Ogilvy Healthworld partnered with data specialists Pulsar to analyse the global corporate activity of 20 leading pharma companies across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. The report involved the analysis of data from an 11-month period running from 19 January to 19 December 2017. This was compared with data from the same time frame in 2016 to measure shifts over the two years.

Although many of the companies reviewed have local market social channels, and in some cases specific channels for therapy areas or other business needs, eg careers, only the global corporate channels were included in this report.

The key take-outs from comparing the two years are that pharma companies are posting less, their communities
are growing, Facebook is the most engaging platform, and Novo Nordisk has become the new leader in pharma social media.

Posting frequency decreased across most channels

The frequency of posting decreased across most pharma social channels over 2017. It seems there’s a growing maturity in the industry, where companies are producing fewer posts, but concentrating on higher quality content. Instagram saw the largest percentage decrease in posting frequency, dropping by 41% since 2016. Perhaps Instagram is not a place for daily updates, but it’s perfect for posting when there’s a visually compelling story to tell. Facebook posting remained very consistent; it’s still the most popular social channel globally and the paid targeting options are very robust, which encourages use of the platform. Indeed, it provides a great deal of opportunities for targeting relevant audiences such as healthcare professionals (HCPs), patients and carers across different age groups and demographics. There was a very slight increase in the frequency of posting on YouTube and this could be down to organisations using the channel as a repository of videos for distribution on other channels, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, but this is expected to drop now that LinkedIn has launched a native video content feature.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Community sizes grew

There has been significant year-on-year growth in social community sizes across all channels. Despite Facebook having the largest and most established communities, year-on-year growth was substantial in 2017, and the platform saw a 47% increase in follower count. Twitter saw a relatively small percentage increase in comparison with other channels, although 15% is still a steady growth rate. Twitter continues to be the key channel during congress season and on disease awareness days, due to the very topical focus of the social network. Pharma’s Instagram communities are much smaller than the huge Facebook and Twitter followings. This is to be expected as the platform is much newer and is often associated with a younger demographic, but the large percentage growth is not to be ignored. It’s a good bet these Instagram communities will see a lot more growth in the coming year as the platform becomes more popular with a wider audience.

Figure 3

Facebook draws most engagement

Facebook was the front-runner in the attention ranks, with the highest number of average engagements per post. This report has shown Facebook has the largest community size, but the platform also offers the most sophisticated paid targeting capabilities of the platforms analysed. Facebook actively encourages testing of different ad formats to help companies find the most successful type of creative for their different audiences. Facebook’s functionalities undoubtedly contributed to the high engagement figure, but it’s important to consider that this could be a reflection of where pharma is choosing to focus its paid-media spend, although it is not the only place to be. Instagram, despite having the smallest following and the
fewest number of posts, received a huge amount of relative engagement per post – reinforcing the fact that pharma companies are rewarded when they thoughtfully plan high quality and visually-engaging content to publish on the platform.

Figure 4

Novo Nordisk 2017 front runner

It is clear that the most frequent posters (Roche, Amgen and Pfizer) are not the same companies that achieved the highest engagement scores (Novo Nordisk, J&J and Novartis). In fact, three of the most engaging companies on social media had a below average number of posts. The key learning is that rather than post an overwhelming amount of content, it is better for pharma companies to consider a more targeted approach, actively targeting specific audiences at relevant times by leveraging the paid amplification functionality offered by the social platforms.

However, while considering going for quality rather than quantity, consider the difference between being visible and being on ‘stand- by’. To stay current and at the top of people’s minds, pharma companies need to ensure that channels look active and well-maintained.

It’s the old saying, it’s always harder to say less, but saying less packs a punch! Pharma companies should consider spending the same amount of time on fewer pieces of content, and spend this time crafting tailored and relevant content that will interest their key audiences. If community managers can’t see the value of a specific post or piece of content, they shouldn’t share it. Equally, pharma companies should devote time to planning their paid targeting strategy, to ensure they are spending their media budget strategically.

Chloe Partikas is Social Media Director, Rick Evans is Senior Digital Strategist and Chelsey Toms is Senior Account Manager, all at Ogilvy Healthworld

12th October 2018

From: Marketing



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