With new buyout, W2O Group boosted social media analytics—and it's already tracking COVID-19 convos

W2O Group’s latest acquisition adds a health-focused social media analytics firm to the fold. Now operating as W2O Symplur, the new unit digests online conversations and identifies trends among key healthcare voices in real time, giving pharma insights for brand and communication decisions.

Symplur’s advantage among social listening firms—and the reason it was an attractive acquisition for W2O—is its extensive cataloging of healthcare voices online, from doctors and nurses to pharma leaders and prominent patients.

“The problem with generic social media listening tools is they have to serve every industry. So if you have a noisy conversation, the noise becomes a problem, and we see that now for example, with COVID-19,” said Audun Utengen, Symplur co-founder and CEO.

“With Symplur, we already know the healthcare professionals, doctors and even patient advocates," Utengen added. "So we can take those voices and bring them up so that no matter how noisy the conversation is, you get the valuable insights that are being shared from the right people.”

RELATED: New dashboard tracks top COVID-19 content among life sciences companies, influencers and media

W2O Symplur and the California Life Sciences Association are in fact already working to track COVID-19 conversations across healthcare providers, media and the scientific community with a public dashboard anyone can use.

The social media analytics company's pharma clients include AbbVie, Genentech and Boehringer Ingelhiem, as well as the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The value of the Symplur acquisition has been amplified in the COVID-19 crisis when the need for quick surfacing of information and rapid knowledge transfer is pressing—and without in-person focus groups or healthcare professional office visits, the W2O executives said.  

Seth Duncan, W2O's chief analytics officer, said, “For whatever reason, physicians have absolutely adopted Twitter as part of this movement towards free open access medical education. And you can really see it during C-19 where leading researchers are sharing data pre-print in real time with each other online.”

RELATED: Acquisitive W2O Group snaps up New York creative shop 21GRAMS

All those data need to be organized and analyzed, though, and that’s where Symplur’s health-focused methodology comes in. Medical affairs teams as well as pharma communications pros and brand managers are typical users, Utengen said.

“It’s about understanding people's behavior—more than what they tell you they’ll do, we want to see what they’re actually doing,” said Adam Cossman, W2O group president and managing partner.

W2O’s acquisition of Symplur continues the pharma and healthcare agency’s string of buyouts over the past year. It bought creative shop 21GRAMS in January after three scientific agency buys in the previous two months.