Pharmaceutical Industry Learns about Social Media the Hard Way

The rollout of the Affordable Care Act has kept all eyes on just the U.S. government, but the healthcare industry as well. In addition to having trouble with the Affordable Care Act website, many be reaching out to the government and healthcare providers through social media. For the most part, healthcare providers are viewed as having a good presence across Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. One healthcare sector that has struggled to maintain a strong social media presence, however, has been the pharmaceutical industry.


“When you look across the healthcare landscape, most of the core leadership at large healthcare institutions are embracing the power of social, the power of pull,” said Howard J. Luks, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and advisory board member of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media in a recent article in Forbes. “Pharma has been the lone and notable exception. But it’s inevitable, so it’s encouraging to see the public and very visible indications that it’s changing.”

Part of Dr. Luks’ “encouraging” indicators that this trend is changing are reflected in a new report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, cited in the above-mentioned Forbes article which finds that Johnson & Johnson ranked number one based on a reach index using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Johnson & Johnson has received nearly three times as many IMS health social media engagement points with 70, compared to GlaxoSmithKline which coming in second place with 25. The rest of the top ten show Pzifer in fourth place with 20 points and UCB coming in tenth place with just nine points.

The report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics shows the importance for companies to become engaged on social media sooner rather than later. Factors such as likes, shares and re-tweets are all used to determine who is ranked highest on this list, so if you’re not sure what such terms even mean, now is the time to study up.

One can imagine that pharmaceutical companies towards the bottom of the social media engagement index don’t even realize that being plugged into Twitter and Facebook was a big deal. It’s important to make sure that your company gets engaged as soon as possible because the next industry to be profiled on social media engagement could be your own.