While Twitter is exploding with popularity and growth, most pharma companies are taking a cautious approach with social media and Twitter… after all, how do you fit in fair balance within the 140 character construct?
Boehringer Ingelheim seems to have made the bold decision to take part in Twitter online conversations and communities, and blaze a trail for pharma in the new media.
While other pharma companies have a presence on Twitter, so far BI is unique in achieving at least some conversational, and interactive blog-like style –and not just using it as a one-way PR feed.
The company began using Twitter in November 2008, led by its director of global corporate communications, John Pugh. According to Pharmafocus, “Boehringer has incorporated Twitter into its wider communications strategy and is using the site regularly to engage with its stakeholders. Along with posting press releases, Pugh uses Twitter to recommend other web-based information about disease areas, as well as articles he thinks followers might find interesting.”
As of today, BI is leading the way among pharmaceutical company Twitterers, with 679 following, 745 followers and 47 updates.
AstraZenecaUS has 136 following, 440 followers and 22 updates. However, unlike BI, all of its tweets are outgoing, one-way communications.
Likewise, Pfizer has 351 following, 462 followers and 48 updates. And like AZ, all its tweets are one-way press releases.
Novartis has 0 following, 681 followers and 40 updates. Like Mrs. Clinton, they also missed the idea that Twitter is about following others in addition to pushing out communications to followers…
According to Pugh, “The company now sees Twitter as an effective way to communicate with its stakeholders and join in discussions…For example, BI recently gave ‘thumbs up’ to the government’s national stroke awareness campaign, reflecting Boehringer’s presence in stroke treatment…Push says the company uses media scanning programs to help monitor the constant online conversations which touch on its areas of interest, and responds quickly to engage with the Twittersphere, joining in or starting up conversations….
…He says the company’s use of Twitter is still in its infancy, and that it offers huge potential for non-promotional communication with patients. “One of the projects that we’re looking at is a stroke channel on YouTube, with a series of video interviews which we will promote through Twitter,” says Pugh. “Culturally as the company finds out more and more ways of using Twitter, we’ll use it more and more, and I think other companies will too.”
Time will tell…