Catching Up on Google+ and Pharma

Back in 2011 when Google+ emerged from Beta and started offering branded pages, there was a good deal of commentary in the blogosphere about the potential use for the new platform by pharma – even here at Eye on FDA.  Now, nearly two years later, it seemed like a good time to check in and see what the experience has been.

Regular readers will recall the fact that Eye on FDA has devised a data base of pharma social media assets which includes profiles of all activity known to me in Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+, tracking a number of characteristics.  It is important to stress this does not pretend to be the universe of activity – only that of which I have become aware.

There are 79 Google+ pages in the database that are sponsored by pharma companies.  Of these, it may surprise some that less than half (39) are from the U.S.  The number of followers range from 0-1198 – though a whopping 31 of these pages have no followers at all. The most circles that include one of the pharma companies is over 800.

Those are the numbers, but what about engagement?   One of the fields tracked is frequency of updates.  Pages were classified as Inactive, 1 Year Inactive, Rare Updates, Regular Updates, Weekly Updates and Daily Updates.  Removing the Inactive and Rare Updates leaves only 25 pharma sponsored pages.  Pulling out only those pages that update Daily or Weekly leaves only 8 pages, while daily leaves only 5.  By contrast, of the 123 Facebook pages being tracked, 34 of them had daily activity.

Two of the most active pages involve recruiting by companies – and one of them has one of the larger followings of any of the pages.  The pages tracked were also classified as to their primary purpose. As mentioned above, 2 pages are dedicated to recruitment efforts.  The vast majority – 52 pages – were pages set up about the company, while 17 were geared to specific products with all but 5 of those being OTC products.  Of the 5 RX product-specific pages, all but 1 were inactive.  In some cases, companies may just be “owning the real estate” without every being active.

Looking at industry activity on Google+ and comparing it to Facebook one sees that despite the fact that in 2011 many thought Google+ offered industry some unique characteristics, engagement at this point appears at a much lower level than other social media platforms.

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