Columbus, OH. Ogilvy recently released a report on pharma’s use of social media in 2014: Connecting the Dots. In 2014, across the board, pharma companies upped their game with big leaps in activity across channels when compared with 2013.

By the numbers, Twitter got the biggest spike from Pharma in 2014 (Followers +295%, Tweets per Week +530%). Part of the boost may be due to the fact that many pharma companies have latched on to a feature called ‘tweetchat’—kind of like a conference call on Twitter (also called a Twitter party). It’s an ideal platform for active discussion for pharma because it occurs during a predefined time window, making it more manageable and ‘compliance friendly’. It also allows access to a broader audience than traditional research and can align around specific events or diseases, and gives immediate responses in a written format that are easily compiled in transcripts for more actionable output.

The Standout – Boehringer Ingelheim: You can’t read this report without wondering: What is Boehringer Ingelheim doing right? According to Ogilvy, while their community sizes aren’t nearly as large as, say, Johnson & Johnson, their engagement (the amount of interaction from the community) and activity (the number of updates on the social network profiles) scores are high. In addition, their virality (i.e. facebook shares or twitter retweets) is way above the curve.

We took a peek into some of their newest social initiatives to see what it is that customers are digging.

Twitter: BI has run three installments of its cardiovascular tweetchat (#ChatAFib). They have engaging moderators (like science writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry), and well-known attendees (like Trudie Lobban from The Atrial Fibrillation Association). The tweetchats also run with specific agenda topics (i.e. patient education, adherence, and patient outcomes for patients with AFib). Analysis shows that the circa 400 tweets generated during the hour-long discussion garnered almost 2.5m impressions! FiercePharma

Vine: BI has a host of 6-second videos to spark activism and education. The one below uses claymation to illustrate how blocking the ErbB family of receptors can delay cancer growth.

Other NoteablesBI got a lot of attention for their Facebook game, called Syrum, where followers were given clues in posts as they work as scientists in drug discovery. They also leveraged Instagram for a “Kiss IPF Goodbye” campaign in which people could hold up signs to show their support in the fight agains Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. They also have a very active Pinterest page where they organize their boards by disease state.

Our take: The leaders in social media for pharma, like Boehringer Ingelheim are willing to experiment and try new things. They leverage the right social tool for the job and they don’t take themselves too seriously.

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.