Social media engagement score: 16
Facebook fans: Bayer HealthCare, 42,596; Bayer Group, 614,531; Diabetes Care by Bayer, 101,096
Twitter followers: @BayerHealthCare, 30,332; @Bayer, 37,072; @bayer_press, 1,435; @BayerUSNews, 9,779
YouTube subscribers: US, 773; Bayer Group, 770; BayerTVInternational, 722

If Bayer's proliferation of social-media outlets translated directly into social media engagement, it would be at the top of this list. It has 9 Facebook pages, 14 Twitter handles, 6 YouTube channels, and two Pinterest pages, not to mention Flickr, Google+ and Slideshare. Its social-media home page links to every one of them.

The company's Facebook page, Diabetes Care by Bayer, focuses on helping patients manage their disease.

If Facebook fan numbers were all it took, Bayer would also be up top. Its Bayer Group page has 614,531 fans, and Bayer HealthCare another 43,018. Its German career site, another 24,026. And so on. On YouTube, almost 750,000 people have watched its most popular video. (Granted, it stars both a cat and a dog, and furry creatures are hard to resist.) 

But though Bayer certainly rolls out the content, and plenty of adherents are listening, Facebook users aren't sharing much--7.4 per post, IMS Health found, fewer than 8 of its rivals--and its likes-per-post average comes in 7th. That means its posts aren't proliferating around the network, limiting its reach. Its Twitter feeds get more traction; they inspire a healthy average of retweets, with 4 per tweet. Favorites, though, lag.

Bayer does beat many of its rivals at actually conversing with the people who are paying attention; only J&J ($JNJ) and Novo Nordisk ($NVO) are better at it. When people comment on its Facebook posts, Bayer often speaks up, with advice, links to other content, or simply a thank you for commenting. On its diabetes page, Bayer's social-media rep posts healthy recipes--which generate a lot of comments--and asks whether people tried and liked the dish. And with people from all over the world commenting, in several languages, Bayer uses Google Translate to respond.

Its Diabetes Care page is among the most active, with posters conversing among themselves about exercise, diet, dental care--and, good for Bayer, the company's testing meters and supplies.

In fact, it appears that Bayer's more specialized feeds are the most engaging. Like Johnson & Johnson, Bayer is a conglomerate, and its main corporate accounts have a lot of ground to cover. Tweets about advanced polycarbonates roll out next to pet tips next to farming ideas. Even Bayer HealthCare encompasses devices and consumer drugs in addition to pharma. The Bayer Group Facebook page often resorts to holiday greetings (using some nice photography).

To its credit, Bayer hasn't allowed some early missteps to daunt its social media work. In 2011, Bayer had to apologize in the U.K. for two tweets that mentioned its prescription drugs: one about the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra and another about the multiple sclerosis drug Sativex. Mentioning the drugs was considered "promotional," and public promos are verboten in Britain.

- check out Bayer's social media website
- and their Pinterest pages, BayerUS and BayerGroup

For more:
Pinterest attracts more pharma outfits
Bayer boosts diabetes message with new blog


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