Big pharma’s losing out on social media

Many large pharmaceutical companies are not using online and social media communications to their advantage, according to Worldcom’s inaugural Digital Health Monitor report.

Released this week, the report identifies and ranks how 25 global pharmaceutical companies manage their online and social media presence, both globally and at a country level across 20 countries.

The rankings are based on each company’s presence on, and use of, social media across multiple blogs and apps. Messages posted about pharmaceutical companies and messages issued by the companies are also reviewed. However, while most are neutral, there are a number of negative messages relating to topics such as opioid abuse, bribery and corruption.

While the report shows Pfizer ranked the highest for the use of YouTube, with Novartis ranked as top user for LinkedIn, the findings indicate none of the 25 companies researched used these — or the other channels examined — to maximum advantage. This includes Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Worldcom’s Healthcare Practice group chairman Serge Beckers said, “Our first Digital Health Monitor has uncovered interesting trends and several lost opportunities, and while we recognise there are limitations to what can be said — and where it can be said — we recommend a more holistic view be taken with channels available.

“Simple steps, such as using YouTube to build the employer brand, can help pharma companies compete in the increasingly tough battle for talent.”

The Worldcom Digital Health Monitor includes the following five recommendations to improve ROI from online communications:

  1. Companies should ensure there is a careers channel on YouTube where ‘advocate employees’ can post reviews of their experiences to promote an ‘employer brand’. This will help win the battle for talent.
  2. Review the usage of the digital channels most used by target audiences. Companies should ensure their brand is present at both a global and local level.
  3. Compare one’s digital ‘footprint’ to that of your peers and competitors. This audit will help ensure companies are not losing ground by missing opportunities to share permitted information across all available channels.
  4. Invest in each local market by investing in appropriate local digital channels. This helps demonstrate that companies care about each local market.
  5. Companies should use the analysis from online monitoring to identify topics where it’s essential they have an opinion and share that opinion on a proactive basis.

The full Digital Healthcare Monitor report can be downloaded here.


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