When social media began to ebb from a media pathway for individuals to connect, to one where institutions and industry began to employ social media as a means of communicating with their constituencies, the pharmaceutical industry, as a highly regulated industry, lagged behind other sectors.
Over time, however, in spite of the FDA's struggle to ascertain how to regulate this burgeoning new media, there has been a steady ebb of participation by the pharmaceutical industry, often observed and commented on by industry watchers. A few have started blogs, most notably J&J's JNJBTW, AstraZeneca's AZ Health Connections and GSK's More Than Medicine. And in fact, use of Twitter has grown substantially among medical product manufacturers, displaying a variety of content and styles and attracting various levels of followings. Likewise there have been several efforts in establishing a YouTube channel, some good, some quite awkward, and traffic to those pages has often been followed here. So have changes in the makeup of the channels.
But the embrace of Facebook has taken place much more slowly than other new media. And yet, as pointed out earlier this year, Facebook has become an extremely important referral source – a driver of traffic – to Web pages. That makes a more compelling case for medical product manufacturers to have a presence on Facebook, because without it, one is necessarily going to limit traffic to one's own site. In February, Eye on FDA urged the FDA to start a Facebook page.
However, while occurring more slowly and approached with more caution, there are several companies that now have corporate or cause-related Facebook pages. Here they are:
- Labs Are Vital sponsored by Abbott Laboratories – the strongest of any of the company's social media efforts this is a resource dedicated to supporting laboratory professionals – a highly important and vital constituency, with 3,073 People Who "Like This"
- AstraZeneca US Community Connections – quite active and with 10,5756 People Who "Like This" – the page is quite active with video and several entries.
- AstraZenecaCareers – also quite active with a variety of resources and links back to other AZ sites – with 1,188 People Who "Like This"
- Bayer Karriere – In German, this page is for people interested in careers at Bayer and has 977 People Who "Like This"
- Bayer Sustainability – A page that is dedicated to the company's efforts in sustainability, this page has 254 People Who "Like This"
- Johnson & Johnson Network – a very thorough and active page with links to other J&J Facebook resources, and provides ancillary support for J&J's robust YouTube channel. Has 4,704 People Who "Like It"
- Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson – an outreach to a singular community sponsored by J&J, it is modeled on the company's network page with links to many nursing organization pages. Has 2,154 People Who "Like It"
- Pfizer – this is a very impressive set of resources, including for example, links to health resources, news and even a multi-media library, and much easier to navigate than a Website. Pfizer has 5,667 People Who "Like This"
I found a few other pages that appeared to be sponsored and had logos, but had so little activity that I am not including them in the last.
And there are other sponsored Facebook pages, particularly around disease specific support, such as a joint site run by EMD Serono and Pfizer called MS Voices, but these were the ones that I found that are tied to corporate. The numbers, almost all under 10,000 people who are fans, may not strike you as huge. But in social media world, if you have 3000 people following you, and they are the right 3000 people, it is huge.
If you know of other's, please leave links in a comment. And as always, thanks!