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The scale of social for Pharma

Senior Director, Social Media

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If you’ve been following our work with with the Digital Health Coalition, ePharma Summit, or the Patient Adherence Congress you’ll know that we’ve been paying a bit of attention to “Social Pharma.” I want to spend a bit of time here discussing the scale issue that Pharma hits when it looks at conversations online.

The number of conditions that have a large patient population and an outward-facing, vocal community are few and far between (diabetes … and …?). So, pharma is typically looking for a small vocal community inside the different conditions. The upside is that health topics can be highly engaging for the caregivers and patients involved and this can create very passionate (and enlightening) conversations. The downside is that purveyors of spam (I’m looking at you, Chinese forums sites and American autoblogs) know that some of these conditions can generate traffic and they will often use the market leader brand name to generate traffic.

Scale Issues

The trigger for this post was a tool on Optimal Social that ranks the different brands. Here are the top consumer brands as of today:

Top brands on social for Feb, 2013

Compare these numbers to some of the larger players in Pharma:

Top 5 social pharma from Optimal

Spam Issues

When dealing with smaller volumes spam is an exponentially greater problem. If we’re doing some listening in a market that has a drug that is even remotely popular we can get up to 50% of mentions as spam. The only solution is to dive deep into the content and cut out the spam as thoroughly as possible. You’ll never get it all, but you can get enough that the social insights are valid in aggregate.

Here is a comparison on a brand that is reasonably popular, but is no “Viagra.” The Unfiltered line is all mentions over the past six months, the Filtered line is after removing keywords like free shipping, vuitton, overnite delivery, etc. The terms that need to be filtered come from analysis and are different for every brand.

Filtered vs. Unfiltered trend

Also, we can break it down into the different channels. Notice that no channel is immune to spam.

Volumes by channel

So, remember when listening that you’re not going to reach Coca Cola levels of popularity and that your analysis team needs to be skilled in spam reduction techniques to get you the insights that are hiding inside the ocean of social data.



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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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