Pharma TWANK (Twitter Rankings) 2011

TWANK.  I made it up.  Stands for Twitter Ranking.  Just before Christmas, I wrote a post that reviewed pharma YouTube channels and assessed how they are doing.  There, for the most part, it did not seem that the industry has really grasped how to utilize YouTube very well for the most part.  Today, we are turning our attention to Twitter, where it appears there is a much greater breadth and depth to the conversation.  So I set out to look at it from a few angles to see how the pharma industry ranks with respect to Twitter use.  So check out your TWANK and those of Twitter feeds like your’s.

Below is a table of all of the pharma Twitter feeds I could find – which numbered 65 separate feeds that are being carried by 28 different pharmaceutical manufacturers (a count which counts Roche and Genentech separately).  I have assembled them all into the Eye on FDA Pharma Twitter Feed which, if you would like to follow, would allow you just to see the aggregated tweets that are posted by various pharma companies.

But first, a few things of note about what is going on in the Pharma Twitterverse.

First of all, consider that Twitter is only a little over three years old and yet mainstream media has a high profile in the medium, as even does the FDA.  A few years ago, there were only a few brave Twitter feeds out there from pharma.

Then, in March 2010 at the Berlin Pharm ExL Digital Conference for Europe, I heard Sabine Kostovc, head of corporate internet and social media at Roche talk about the need to go country-specific, language-specific and even disease area-specific with twitter feeds.  That does, after all, speak to the increasingly granular nature of communications in social media.  Obviously she was right and many have taken her advice.  By the way, as you will see by the chart below, she knows her stuff.  Roche is doing quite well in terms of its KLOUT score – but more on that in a second.

Consequently, what you will see is that there are twitter feeds in Spanish and German.  Many companies have country-specific feeds that include the Netherlands, Turkey, Germany, Venezuela, to name a few.  And some companies have started feeds that are disease specific, such as diabetes and oncology.  And to recruit new talent, there are companies that have started feeds aimed solely at recruitment – such as Merck with its merckcareers1 or AstraZeneca, which has 2 – JoinAstraZeneca and AstraZenecaJobs.

Clearly, where many in  the past feared to tread, many have gone and in fact, many companies have multiple feeds.

Another interesting note.  Many social media commentators have speculated that it is not the number of Twitter followers that counts.  And there are a number of schools of thought as to what makes influence when it comes to Twitter.  For example, if you have 1000 followers, but each of them only as 10 followers, would you be better off with 100 followers each of whom has 1000 followers?  Your re-tweet power would certainly have more wind in the sails.  What you will see below is confirmation of the fact that the number of twitter followers does not necessarily correspondingly translate into greater clout or KLOUT.  You will see some companies with 6000 followers and others with nearly twice that and yet they reside fairly close to one another in terms of their influence.  This is about more than an “if you build it, they will come” mentality.  And in fact, just having them show up is not enough.

So in putting together the chart below, I looked at a few factors.  First, of course, how many followers there are for each of the feeds.  Second the number of lists on which the feed is included.  Third, the number of tweets (the more you say, well – the more you say), and finally, the KLOUT factor.  Klout is one of many assessment tools available on line and in developing a KLOUT score, combines 35 variables to determine a score.  The range is from 1-100, with the higher the number representing a wider range of influence.  (I am pleased to report that the Eye on FDA KLOUT score is currently 56.)

And so without further gabbing, the TRANKS for 2011 in Pharma, where you will see that Roche and Novartis tied for the highest KLOUT score of 52, followed by Pfizer with a 51 score to fill the top three slots.

It is not impossible that I have missed some feeds or even some companies.  I intentionally omitted some that had not registered a tweet for several months, judging them dormant.  If I missed you, please don’t hesitate to offer a comment, or to send me an email at

And in the meantime, if you are not on the list not because I missed you, but because you aren’t playing ball, you may just want to re-think your position.  At least, that would be my advice, because Twitter is no longer “social media” – it has become just “media”.

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15 Responses to Pharma TWANK (Twitter Rankings) 2011

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Pharma TWANK (Twitter Rankings) 2011 | Eye on FDA --

  2. Rank This says:

    You didn’t rank them, you just made a table with 4 metrics, no real analysis here.

  3. Senak says:

    Actually, I would beg to differ. The KLOUT number is, to my view, a rank. I also named the top three.

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  5. Love this, but poor @bmsnews, where were they…. As to lack of ranking well really these guys should be on Twitter gathering info and getting to the heart of their consumers/patients issues and feeding this back to marketers and salesforce. This should be more of an engagement exercise rather than purely analytics led. Oh and they should be enjoying it too… So well done on your statement, I hope others don’t miss it…

    .. and that word is quite rude you know…. 😉 are we seeing a more risque FDA? (that rhymes by the way feel free to use it in future posts)

  6. Ben says:

    Hi Mark, thanks for maintaining this great blog about health and the health industry. I’m very pleased to see my organization Novartis ranking alongside our close neighbour Roche. Sabine’s dedication and work at Roche with Twitter is really good. My Novartis colleagues have grown savvy using Twitter hashtags and appropriate content, but I think Sabine still leads in advancing a publicly owned drug company’s social communication and engagement. Here’s my question: do you think your analysis sufficiently assesses the value we bring through Twitter to the end user? I often wonder whether our content is useful. Since we don’t engage too much in two-way conversation in social media (and I do still consider Twitter social as demonstrated by Andrew’s and Silja’s #hcsmeu community), I think it is of paramount importance we ensure our information is relevant to the needs of our audiences, or we will simply exploit Twitter as an echo chamber of our corporate message, something communications advocates like us would prefer to change in social media. Perhaps a high number of followers indicates we are publishing good stuff. Lists is good too, as well as Klout. But these are quite quantitative measures like ‘impressions’ in traditional media PR. What if you were to poll readers to see how useful they find the information they are following? And how are organizations using Twitter strategically and against what measurements? How are we integrating it all together with our other owned, earned and paid media; after all Twitter touches only a fraction of the population. Rankings help us see who is active, but I’d like to learn more about which companies are adopting sensible customer-oriented curation of health and product information through offline and online channels/platforms, and what people consider to be valuable and relevant versus corporate ‘noise’. Thanks again and Happy New Year to you and your readers!

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