Every so often, one sees an article about what happens to the social media identities of people who have passed away. But what happens when a social media asset is abandoned – abandoned by a brand?
Keeping track of social media activity by pharma is not an easy task. There are a wide array of platforms, and characterizing the activity can be a challenge. One of the greatest of these is differentiating the social media assets held by pharma by level of activity. When one does, one discovers that there is a bit of urban blight visible on the digital media landscape.
In the database that I have put together with two of my colleagues, we track social media activity across several platforms – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+. As we become aware of an asset, the property and several of its traits – purpose, number of followers, etc. all get tracked.
While many pharma communications commentators often state that pharma is social media shy – the reality is that some pharma is social media shy while other pharma is highly active – with some running multiple outlets on each platform for specific purposes or to address key geographies or topics. However, what one also finds is that many have dipped their toe in the water and have gone away.
Here is how it looks by the numbers when just looking at pharma sponsored outlets across these social media platforms (some OTC is sprinkled in here as well): There are 240 Twitter feeds; 123 Facebook pages; 174 YouTube channels; 52 Pinterest pages and 80 Google+ sites. (Caveat – These are the activities of which I am aware, but there are doubtless sites not captured.)
However, when you sort based on the level of activity and confine your search to those outlets that have regular or frequent updates and thereby omitting those with only intermittent or dormant sites, the numbers are far different. For the active pharma users we have Twitter at 140; Facebook at 72; YouTube 72; Pinterest only 18; and Google+ at 26. That means that pharma Twitter has 58% of its feeds active (or 42% inactive – depending on if you are a glass half-empty or half full sort of person). Facebook similarly is at 58%, while YouTube is at 41%, Pinterest at 35% and Google+ at the bottom with only 32.5% of its pharma sites being active.
That may be indicative that there has been a high level of experimentation, or a lack of coordination within some in industry respecting the efforts.
But as a matter of brand housekeeping, dormant social media sites are probably not going to listed anywhere as a best practice. For one thing, some of these will still show up in searches – either on a general search engine or on the social media platform. For another, people may try and succeed in providing a comment on the property if that is permitted. Or, they may think you just don’t care.
As industry figures its way around social media (and waits for FDA to attend to guidance) it might be a good idea to go back and clean out old abandoned properties.