Social media engagement score: 18
Facebook fans: Novartis, 43,681
Twitter followers: @Novartis, 68,984
YouTube subscribers: Novartis, 2,669

Novartis ($NVS) knows the power of a picture. It has a Flickr stream hundreds strong, with some strikingly beautiful images. But the collection on its Facebook ($FB) page inspires the most conversation. The page is full of photos, from the signature black-and-white shots by Mary Ellen Mark the Swiss drugmaker uses in its annual reports to snapshots submitted by employees and visitors.

Part of an image campaign, Long Live Life, the submitted photos appear on Facebook in groups of three. Each post links to the company website, and each group has users liking (100+) and commenting.

And then there's a series of lovely Anne Geddes shots of children who survived meningococcal disease, part of an awareness project promoting vaccination. (Novartis markets a meningococcal B vaccine, Bexsero.) The company highlights its antimalaria campaign with images of children in Africa and researchers in their labs, and its international reach with Mark's photographs of kids and babies in hospitals and clinics around the world.

This screenshot from Novartis' Facebook page is an example of one of the company's many posts focusing on COPD.

Other posts focus on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (the company has a portfolio of COPD drugs on the market and in development), still others on World Sight Day (Novartis' Alcon unit specializes in ophthalmology), and others on breast cancer (it sells Femara, a breast cancer therapy, and its Afinitor treatment recently won approval for HER2-negative breast cancer). Of course there are posts and videos about a favorite topic among drugmakers, R&D, and the usual interviews with top management. The Long Live Life campaign has its own Pinterest page and YouTube video series, including a chat about the topic by CEO Joe Jimenez.

Novartis is among the few drugmakers with more Twitter ($TWTR) followers than Facebook fans; perhaps that's because it went live on Twitter back in 2008 and didn't join Facebook till 2010. 

But its Facebook page is doing something right; according to IMS Health's statistics, Novartis posts are shared 27 times each, on average, a figure surpassed only by GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), both at the top of this list. Its posts attract an average of 3 comments each, just a touch behind the third-place company, and its tally of likes per post comes in at about 93, about 10 behind Pfizer ($PFE). Twitter-wise, its retweets are in 8th place, at 2.7.

One striking difference between Novartis and companies that ranked above it here is this: It didn't engage in much two-way conversation, at least during the time period studied by IMS. Its average number of replies to others on Twitter was 0.1, lower than anyone else on the list. On Facebook, its reply record is nil. The only other company here with a similar figure is Pfizer, whose reputation for two-way chat isn't strong, either.

For more:
Biotech, pharma warming up to Facebook


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