Pharma Companies Missing Out On Social Media Opportunities Particularly At A Country Level

Research executed by The Worldcom Public Relations Group, the leading global partnership of independent public relations firms, suggests many large pharmaceutical companies are not optimizing online and social media communications to their advantage, according to findings released in the Digital Health Monitor report. In Worldcom’s inaugural Digital Health Monitor, research identifies how 25 global pharmaceutical firms manage their online and social media presence globally and in 20 countries.

“Our first Digital Health Monitor has uncovered interesting trends and several lost opportunities, and while we recognize there are limitations to what can be said and where it can be said, we recommend a more holistic view be taken with channels available, said Serge Beckers, chairman of Worldcom’s Healthcare practice group. “Simple steps, such as using YouTube to build the employer brand, can help pharma companies compete in the increasingly tough battle for talent.”

The report ranks each company in terms of their presence on, and the use of, Apps, Blogs Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube. It also reviewed the use of these channels by country. Pfizer, for example, came out on top for the use of YouTube, while Novartis ranked as top user for LinkedIn. The report found, however, that none of the companies used these channels to maximum advantage.

The Digital Health Monitor also examined messages about pharmaceutical companies and those issued by the companies reviewed. While most are neutral, there are a number of negative messages around topics such as opioid abuse, bribery and corruption.

The Worldcom Digital Health Monitor concludes with five recommendations to improve ROI from online communications.

  1. Companies should ensure there is a careers channel on YouTube where ‘advocate employees’ can post reviews of their experiences to promote an ‘employer brand’. This will help win the battle for talent.
  2. Review the usage of the digital channels most used by target audiences. Companies should ensure their brand is present at both a global and local level.
  3. Compare one’s digital ‘footprint’ to that of your peers and competitors. This audit will help ensure companies are not losing ground by missing opportunities to share permitted information across all available channels.
  4. Invest in each local market by investing in appropriate local digital channels. This helps demonstrate that companies care about each local market.
  5. Companies should use the analysis from online monitoring to identify topics where it’s essential they have an opinion and share that opinion on a proactive basis.

Key findings from the Worldcom Digital Health Monitor


All pharmaceutical companies in the study have a worldwide website, but many of them do not offer local websites in all countries surveyed. This is a lost opportunity to demonstrate that specific countries and their populations matter to the brand.


Internationally, pharmaceutical companies make little use of blogs. Although almost all pharmaceuticals have a ‘global blog,’ the number of blog posts is fairly modest. Local blogs are rare.


Most pharmaceutical companies have efficient, target group centered apps.

Social Media

Twitter is preferred to Facebook. All pharmaceutical companies in our list have an international Twitter account. Two companies do not have an international Facebook page.


Accounts are present, but no pharmaceutical company reaches 50 percent of the available score. This is mainly due to the fact that country-specific pages on LinkedIn are not common.


Given that YouTube is the second largest search engine, it is surprising that this platform does not seem to belong to the standard communication arsenal of most pharmaceutical companies. Local YouTube accounts are available in only a handful of countries.

The use of the remaining channels, i.e., Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, and Tumblr is modest.

Download the 2019 Digital Healthcare Monitor

Additional Study Information


The study covers 20 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Pharmaceutical companies

The pharmaceutical companies included in the study are: Abbott, AbbVie, Allergan, Amgen, Astellas Pharma, AstraZeneca, Baxter International, Bayer, Biogen Idec, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, Mylan, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, Shire, Takeda and Teva Pharmaceutical.

About The Worldcom Public Relations Group

The Worldcom Public Relations Group is the world’s leading partnership of independently operated public relations firms, with 143 offices employing some 2,000 staff in 115 cities across six continents. In total, Worldcom partners reported combined revenue of US$288 million last year from 3,034 clients. Established in 1988, the group was formed so that the strongest, most capable independent firms could deliver immediate impact and sustained value through the intelligent use of communications – wherever in the world a client needs support. Partners serve national, international and multinational clients, while retaining the flexibility and client-service focus inherent in independent agencies. Through Worldcom, clients have on-demand access to in-depth communications expertise from professionals who understand the language, culture and customs of the geographic areas in which they operate. Connect with The Worldcom PR Group on Facebook and LinkedIn. Learn more about Worldcom at or by calling 1-800-955-9675.