Pharma’s use of Twitter, sigh..

medical-social-mediaKEY TAKEAWAY: The key advantage of social media is that allows one-one conversations with your audience, but a recent audit of pharma’s activity on Twitter indicates that they are using the social media platform as another way to broadcast content.

I have been conducting an audit on Twitter of the ways pharma companies are using it and while the good news is there is a lot of activity, the bad news is they are using it as a broadcast platform.  The only exception that I could find was Sanofi who is using Twitter to talk with diabetes patients.


It’s obvious that pharma’s use of Twitter, for the most part, is being led by public relations people.  There are “corporate” announcements meant for investors or the press while patients are largely being ignored.   Why is this happening?  Largely because of two reasons; first, they are afraid of using social media for patient engagement and second because they don’t have the people to use social media as tool to reach customers.

There is an exception that I have found.  Sanofi is doing a great job informing diabetics on how to manage their disease as well as sharing recipes.  Their Tweets are timely and informative with links to great information. In this sense Sanofi is helping diabetics cut through the clutter to get the information they need to lead better lives.


Will pharma really use social media the way it was intended?  Yes.  Greater Than One, a digital agency in New York and San Francisco, recently conducted a Facebook chat for a pharma client after working with someone who went through legal and regulatory training, however, most pharma companies are still in a broadcast mode when it comes to the use of Twitter and frankly that’s a waste of time and money.

3 thoughts on “Pharma’s use of Twitter, sigh..

  1. Based on my experience with pharma comms teams and their agencies, I think you’re wrong about who is driving the Twitter tactics, though you’re right about the overall problem. Corporate legal and regulatory counsels force the caution, so the PR people believe they can’t truly engage patients or other target audiences.

  2. Gary..I think you have a great point. I have run into some legal people that can’t be moved but at some time we are going to have some risk

  3. Totally agree with previous replies. Is not a problem of PR, comm people because many time you want to do something interesting, legal and regulatory people tells you not to do it. Or the mad process for just aproving a tweet which can take several days which absolutely crazy. And in Europe where I work you can only do so few things…

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