Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim
Social media engagement score: 18
Facebook fans: Boehringer Ingelheim, 84,957
Twitter followers: @Boehringer, 29,545; @BoehringerUS, 17,645
YouTube subscribers: Boehringer Ingelheim, 1,502

Boehringer Ingelheim approaches social media in a lighthearted way no other drugmaker seems able to manage yet. Its Twitter ($TWTR) and Facebook ($FB) pages use lively illustrations, and on Twitter, some feature photos--not head shots--of the people in charge of the handle. Within the usual disease-awareness and corporate communications messages, the @Boehringer Twitter mavens offer a soupçon of humor and techie health coverage. (Strangely enough, the U.S.-based Twitter feed is more conservative.)

Here's the header on Boehringer Ingelheim's global Twitter handle.

Perhaps more important is the fact that Boehringer experiments with social media. The company attracted plenty of attention for its Facebook game Syrum, designed to teach players about drug development. But that game isn't its only foray into uncharted pharma territory. In September, Boehringer hosted a Twitter chat about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Special guest: Andrew McIvor, a professor at McMaster University in Canada, who uses Facebook and Twitter to discuss COPD and asthma. The #COPDChat took place during a European respiratory meeting, as part of a blast of conference coverage; as Creation Healthcare CEO Daniel Ghinn noted in Pharmaphorum, Boehringer was mentioned on Twitter 350 times during that meeting. The company also taps the gamut of social-media platforms, updating all of them regularly. It operates a chock-full Pinterest page, an Instagram feed, and a Vine channel broadcasting those 6-second videos, some with clay-figure animations and cartoon thought bubbles. A short series stars a trio of plush monkeys as hepatitis C mascots. They're also featured on its Pinterest page, pointedly ignoring the need for a hep C diagnostic test.

Like Novo Nordisk ($NVO), Boehringer benefits from its smaller pharma footprint. Its biggest drugs are concentrated in respiratory and cardiovascular indications, so the social-media team can throw itself into a COPD-awareness campaign without worrying that it should also be covering 20 other diseases. A current focus on hepatitis C anticipates a couple of drugs in late-stage development. Lung cancer messages support a newly launched biologic treatment, Gilotrif (afatinib).

Boehringer has plenty of room to grow, though. Its U.S. Facebook page is only a few months old, having launched in October. (Its global page has a much longer history.) So far, the U.S. site isn't as visually stimulating as, for instance, Novartis' Facebook home--nor as cheerful as @Boehringer's own Twitter page.

Still, Boehringer beats Novartis ($NVS) at engaging on Facebook, with 133 "Likes" per post and 0.2 company replies per post, on average. Though its tweets inspire fewer retweets--2.2, on average--its reply history amounts to 0.2. And besides Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), it's the only company on this list with many YouTube comments to speak of, with 1.3 per post.

- check out Boehringer Ingelheim's social media website
- here's Boehringer Ingelheim's Pinterest site
- see the company's Vine profile
- here's Boehringer Ingelheim's Instagram

For more:
Boehringer Ingelheim boosts social networking site for 'orphan' lung disease
Boehringer Ingelheim debuts pharma game 'Syrum' on Facebook

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