How Big Pharma Uses Social Media to Create Buzz

For pharmaceutical companies, social media has always been a trickier game. On one hand, social media has emerged as a preferred medium of expression and communication all over the world. On the other hand, there are very strict regulations about what information can be shared by pharma companies.Pills (Photo credit: EssjayNZ)

However, today most of the customers expect the businesses to be present on social media where there can be a direct communication. But the regulation as well as cautious attitude on part of the companies mean that most of the pharma companies find it difficult to go beyond using social media as another PR channel. 

However, this does not mean that the pharmaceutical companies are not using social media. They are innovating use of social media to move closer to their customers. Pfizer, for example, has more than 30 region as well as subject specific social media accounts across Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Similarly, other companies are taking to social media increasingly to disseminate information and bring in more transparency.

We, at VOZIQ, analyzed all the social media buzz around big pharmaceutical companies to see how they fair relative to each other on social media. The companies whose buzz we analyzed are:

  • GSK
  • Merck
  • Novartis
  • Pfizer
  • Roche

Here are the results:

Share of Volume

As the following visual shows, Pfizer clearly leads the pack as far as share of buzz volume is concerned. Pfizer is followed by Roche and GSK. At the same time, it is Novartis which lags in the pack as far as volume of the buzz goes.

Share of Volume

Sentiment Balance

The metric ‘share of volume’ indicates the awareness of the brand. It may not necessarily mean a positive or negative sentiment. It is the Sentiment Balance chart which gives us the clear idea of positive and negative sentiment for each of these brands as well as a comparative picture.

As the sentiment balance chart shows, GSK garners largest positive buzz among the pack while Pfizer leads as far as negative sentiment is concerned. Actually, Pfizer and Merck are the two among the pack who have more negative buzz than positive one.

Sentiment Balance

Top Pharma Topics

This is an interesting graph which not only tells which are the most important topics which are being discussed on social media, it also shows proportional share of each topic for the particular brand as well as vis-à-vis other brands.

Pharma Social Media Topics

The major topics among others which are generating buzz about the pharma companies are:

Acquisitions Clinical Trials Collaborations
FDA Actions Generic Drugs Generic Drugs
Prescription Drugs Research Vaccines

As we can see from the graph, the major buzz driving topics are: acquisitions, collaborations, and vaccines. In the graph, breaking the pattern are two aberrations. One is Pfizer for whom the topic ‘Generic Drug’ has more buzz when compared to other companies. Second aberration is for Novartis. For the pharma major, the topic ‘FDA Actions’ has generated a very disproportionate share of buzz.

These reports give not only a bigger picture of the social media conversations happening for the big pharmaceutical companies but also some specific leads about where to focus their social media strategies.

Read next:  How retailers can use social to drive customer loyalty

About Vinay Bandaru

Vinay Bandaru is the director of business development at VOZIQ, a Social Media Analytics business based out of Washington, D.C. He's a results-driven director with 15+ years experience in IT and Tech business development, product management, marketing, corporate strategy. He's evangelizes VOZIQ's approach to develop actionable insights from complex social media data by bringing technology and services together.