Pharma pins new social media hopes on Pinterest

Pharma is betting that a picture can be worth a thousand words (or Tweets?) in the world of the social web, with a growing number of major drugmakers raising flags on Pinterest, the social photo-sharing website that attracts millions of monthly visitors, PMLive reports. The site has become one of the latest forays into social networking for drugmakers as they seek attention and feedback from target audiences online.

Take the U.S. operations of German drug giant Bayer. With 7 so-called "pin boards" on Pinterest, Bayer has created new avenues to engage consumers and others on a range of topics such as advertising as well as science, education and advocacy, PMLive reports. And the other pharma stakeholders on the social networking site include Novo Nordisk ($NVO), Boehringer Ingelheim, and Menarini Group. GE Healthcare hangs its social media hat there too. 

Despite a lack of clarity from regulators on allowable marketing practices on social media sites, pharma companies have found Pinterest and a number of other ways to tap social media without promoting their products. This week, for example, Boehringer is expected to launch a Facebook game on Thursday called Syrum, which challenges players to round up new treatments to combat health threats in a sportive online atmosphere that has drawn comparisons to the popular social game Farmville. (BI also reserves the right to nix untrue comments on its Pinterest pages.)

Drugmakers have taken up residence on a range of social media sites, which are a key component to many digital efforts or strategies for companies to reach people while they are online. The three most popular health search topics were conditions, treatments and doctors, respectively, according to a 2010 survey from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. And pharma companies have an interest in both providing some of the information for those searches and, increasingly, analyzing health data generated from searchers and social media activity.

Pinterest, formed in 2009, is among the emerging forces in the social media realm that comScore credited early this year with surpassing 10 million visitors faster than any independent site in history, Tech Crunch reported in February. Facebook and Twitter might easily trump those numbers, but pharmas are using the photo-focused Pinterest as part of larger efforts to engage online audiences via a variety of popular platforms, PMLive reports.

- check out PMLive's article