More followers and more daily tweeting as Big Pharma's Twitter presence grows

Tweet on, drugmakers. Not only is Twitter use by pharma companies on the rise, but so is interest in what they've got to say. A recent survey by the Eye on FDA blog found more daily interactions on Twitter by pharma, along with a marked increase in followers versus last year.

This year, the number of pharma, biotech and device Twitter followers grew to 2.54 million, versus 1.51 million in 2014. In 2013, the first year of the survey, there were just 770,000 total pharma followers. The increase came even though there wasn't a big increase in the number of pharma companies with Twitter feeds, the blog pointed out, "meaning the ranks of existing feeds grew considerably."

The number of the pharma companies that tweeted daily also increased, going from 54 to 66.

The most followed Twitter feed this year was @TeamNovoNordisk with 183,000 followers, followed in order by company feeds from Novartis ($NVS), Pfizer ($PFE), Roche ($RHHBY) and Bayer. Last year's most followed pharma @Pfizer had 108,000 followers at that time. (@Pfizer currently has 153,000 followers.)

Less encouraging was that the number of inactive or dormant accounts grew from 83 last year to 121 this year.

FleishmanHillard's Mark Senak

The blog, run by Mark Senak, a Washington, DC, lawyer at FleishmanHillard, surveyed some 300 Twitter feeds in its database, comparing the results from September/October 2014 to July/August 2015.

Senak noted in an email exchange with FiercePharmaMarketing that he would expect pharma increases to continue if Twitter itself continues to grow, noting a bigger pool of users likely means more would be drawn to pharma.

While the Twitter increases indicate pharma is getting more social--and users getting more interested--it also means the FDA should perhaps reconsider its guidance, Senak noted on his blog.

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the numbers in this medium continue to grow, and that growth speaks to the need for FDA to revisit and reconsider the draft guidance."

- read Eye on FDA's post

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