UPDATED: Big Pharma misses the cut for new list of top healthcare tweeters

Pharma execs are still sitting on the social media sidelines, according to one new assessment. BrandFog social media consultancy has come up with its first top 20 list of healthcare and pharma Twitter influencers and not one pharma company staffer is on it.

There are a couple of pharma journalists, Ben Hershler from Reuters and Andrew Ward at the Financial Times, along with a pharma consultant at McKinsey, Martin Loesch, but no pharma C-suite-level person--or even social media employee--made the list.

Not to worry though, said BrandFog CEO Ann Charles, because things are changing. Pharma executives, along with other professionals in industries like law and financial services, have been slow to get involved on Twitter. But in the past year, and especially in the past 6 months, she said, more people from those industries are inquiring about how to build a presence on social media.

"I expected them to be one of the last on board," she said, adding that while slow adoption is fine, no adoption isn't. Social media is important for those in the pharma C-suite, she said, and for pharma, that includes the CEO, CMO and maybe the chief scientist or R&D leader. Charles would not say whether anyone on the top-20 list is a current or former client, citing confidentiality agreements.

"Today people want to know who they're doing business with, and they want to know about the leadership of that business," Charles said. "Social media use humanizes the brand and that extends to the organization. … Many people in upcoming generations really want to patronize businesses that they have some shared sense of value with. Gone are the days of closing the door and issuing a press release."

What about regulatory concerns? CEOs are likely used to speeches and commentary being vetted through others in the company, including the legal department, and Twitter posts should be treated the same way, she said.

"You wouldn't talk about earnings in communications, so don't talk about it on Twitter. Don't reveal anything you wouldn't in any other communication," Charles said. "Keep in mind that social media at the brand level is very different than social media at the corporate level."

- see the BrandFog list

Special Report: Top 10 pharma companies in social media

Editor's note: This story was updated with a link to the BrandFog list.