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Real-Time and Pharma Social

Senior Director, Social Media

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Ever since Oreo’s “you can still dunk in the dark” post during the Superbowl power outage in 2013, marketers have talked about the power of “real-time” social. Normally, pharma does not engage in these activities but in this case Sanofi US has responded with a combination of timeliness and wit that is exceptionally rare in the industry.

We’re not going to give Rosanne Barr’s tweet any more airplay than it’s already had, but most marketers at least know about it and the fact that ABC cancelled the show after it was posted. That happened late on Tuesday, May 29. Then, later that same night, the actor tweeted the following:

“It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting.”

By now, the pharmacovigilance team at Sanofi US has reported this adverse event to the FDA (that would be a rare entertaining AE report) but the corporate communications department was not to be outdone. Every corp comms group has an emergency response process. In this case, someone at Sanofi US obviously saw the mention, jumped on the issue, and has been able to capitalize with the timeliness of the company response:

The linked Tweet will continually update the like and retweet numbers but at the time of writing it was already at 60K likes after three hours on-platform (compare that number to the above and you’ll see how quickly the numbers were climbing, they rose over 10K at the time this post was written). Because we love data, we took a quick look on Sysomos to see where the conversation was taking the pharma company (note: chart updated 5/31).

Sysomos chart of talk related to the tweet and response (updated 5/31)

Like most social media events, this one will likely peak and fade away rather quickly but the lasting effect on the industry will be positive. With this one tweet, Sanofi US has shown that pharmaceutical companies can hold their own in the sphere of public opinion by using:

Timeliness: the Sanofi US team got this post out in 12 hours and 42 minutes from the time that the company’s drug was mentioned. This was certainly helped by the fact that the post was in the middle of a significant social media event already, but the corp comms, medical, legal, and regulatory teams did a terrific job getting this post out while the topic was still growing.

Humor: the dry wit that infuses the tweet itself is fantastically balanced. There are many very serious issues surrounding these events, and we cannot lose sight of that, but the understated facts really pull off the corporate message and provide just the right amount of spark for others on Twitter to carry it along.

The quick response from Sanofi US has provided a boost to the public image of the company and to pharmaceutical firms in general.

Notice: We are proud to work with many pharmaceutical companies on many brands but note that all comments are the personal opinion of the author.

More About the Author

Brad Einarsen

Brad is Klick's Senior Director leading the social practice. His group ensures that clients get the best bang for their buck on the social platforms.

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