Twitter Followers and Pharma – The New Numbers

As many readers are aware, I love databases and one of them that I have put together takes a stab at tracking social media activity of the pharma, biotech and device sectors. Included in the count are any pharma Twitter feed, Facebook page, YouTube channel, Pinterest page and Google+ profile. The limitation is that items are only tracked once I am aware of them, but searches are regularly conducted to try to update.

We track a number of fields. For example in Twitter, we track the name of the company, the regularity of activity, a characterization of the type of feed (corporate, jobs, CSR, product), the number being followed, the number of followers and the KLOUT score, country of origin, etc. We then can sort on any of those fields and it is handy for seeing who is doing what and in what kind of quantity.

Each year my colleagues and I work a “census” and repopulate the numbers with updates to reflect new followings and new KLOUT scores. It is a big undertaking, so we only do it once a year. The nice thing is that we are able to provide a comparison.

While we have not seen the grand total of twitter feeds increase significantly – there are about 300 in the data base, the number of follower has increased. Last November when we did the last census, I provided an update. We have just completed another census and here are the numbers.

While it is interesting to note the numbers it also says something else about the environment. Last summer FDA provided two guidance documents one of which related to the use of social media where there are character space limitations such as Twitter. The guidance in effect made the branded use of Twitter by industry almost impossible and created the ironic circumstance whereby if a company retweets a tweet sent by FDA’s where the product name and indication are mentioned it could technically result in a violation.

Nevertheless, the numbers in this medium continue to grow and that growth speaks to the need for FDA to revisit and reconsider the draft guidance.

One important note here to remember – the database only has that activity of which I have become aware and does not pretend to be the comprehensive universe of industry efforts.

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