Follow the engagement- visualizing #followpharma

Written by Silja on 21 July 2009 in pharma twittersphere - 11 Comments

Last Friday, I asked you to recommend your favourite pharma twitter accounts under the #followpharma hashtag. I promised that in return for your participation, I would summarize, analyze and consolidate all recommendations.

Your participation was incredible! In just one day, you recommended 249 accounts (or 131 excluding all double counting) from 11 countries that pharma should consider following! I have to say, I did not expect so much enthousiasm -the analysis kept me busy all of yesterday night and most of today. (Note to myself – never underestimate the twittersphere ;-) ).

As I went through the recommendations, I started seeing clusters of twitter activity: US vs. European twitterers, healthcare professionals vs. journalists etc. The pharma twittersphere turned out to be more diverse than I had anticipated. I decided to map the relationships of who recommended whom using Manyeyes to visualize these clusters.


I am used to more sophisticated mapping software, but for a free application this ain’t too bad, no? Please do not read too much into this graph though, the application is very simplistic! It only shows who recommended whom and does not account for  influence or closeness of relationship.

I used this simple clustering exercise to come up with the segmentation matrix below. In the table, you can see all accounts that were recommended, segmented by continent and the potential target audiences for pharma. (Please do not hesitate to correct me, should I have put you in the wrong category, country or life ;-) )


Not surprisingly, US Pharma bloggers and agencies accounted for 34% of all recommendations.  I am delighted to see more European pharma twitter accounts- special thanks for the great recommendations from Spain and France.

The most amazing thing about this exercise though was the incredible quality of accounts it brought to light. All twitter accounts recommended had relevant content to pharma, none were dead or spam. I have to say, my following went up considerably last night, as I went through all these great recommendations. Maybe we will see a similar effect for some of the pharmacos on twitter?

Next I looked at who got the most recommendations. I made the cut at 5 recommendations. I admit that there was no particular reason for this cutoff other than trying to keep things manageable for me ;-) The spread of recommendations was actually quiet close.


So why did I continue with this exercise then? Well for once, I promised to analyze the number of mentions for you, so I did :-)

Yet there are two other important reason’s:

One reason is what Phil Baumann calls the concept of social capital. As you can see from the map, those people that were most recommended also tweeted the most recommendations – that is how I got up there there anyway ;-) Also, people like Shwen or Fard for example are active, ralleying people, accumulating content and gathering learnings so that all of us pharma social media junkies can build on it. This sort of engagement “pays“ with increased social capital that twitter shows (ie. people recommend you). It is thus a nice way to illustrate the reciprocal nature of twitter: it is not the place to be, it is the place to act!

Secondly, let’s see who was not recommended. I was able to fit patient advocate recommendations in a small space under “other“ in my table. From my experience with patient social media projects, I can ensure you though that patients are INCREDIBLY active.  As a matter of fact, if pharma is keen on entering the social media space, it is precisely for the potential to build the right relationships also with its patients (finally ;-) .  So what is going on? What relationships do we have to build, what conversations do we need to have so that the pharma twittersphere becomes a fertile and safe ground for patients and ALL healthcare stakeholders?

Finally, let us remind ourselves that twitter is just a tool. And I do not care about the tool, be it twitter or Google wave or whatever will come next. I care about knowing where the most relevant conversations for pharma are happening and then connecting people in meaningful ways to take the conversation to the next level.

This drives home my message: Let’s follow engagement and valuable content.


11 Comments on "Follow the engagement- visualizing #followpharma"

  1. Arthur Alston 22 July 2009 at 8 h 42 min ·

    Another very insightful analysis Silja

    I feel a bit lonely in the ROw row ;-)

  2. Christopher O'Rourke 22 July 2009 at 13 h 06 min ·

    Amazing work Silja!

  3. Ayubu Azizi 22 July 2009 at 14 h 51 min ·

    Nice work and great post. Very insightful.

  4. ellen hoenig 22 July 2009 at 18 h 40 min ·

    Silja: Friday was a great rallying cry for pharma tweeters! Luv all your analysis…

  5. Janelle Bowden 22 July 2009 at 23 h 52 min ·

    This answers a question I’ve been pondering lately…. Is Twitter activity concentrated in the US, and is Australia participating at all? I think this answers both questions, and at least I now know of at least 1 aussie!

  6. Andrew Spong 27 July 2009 at 10 h 28 min ·

    I’m a bit alarmed at being slap bang in the middle of your first plot. I like to live on the margins….

    [Note to self: more disruption! :) ]

    Silja, this is absolutely first-class work. What a great discussion piece – thank you very much for executing an engaging idea with such verve.

  7. Silja 27 July 2009 at 22 h 07 min ·

    Thank you all for the compliments and especially for your participation in my little exercise. It was a lot of fun!

    I am also glad, there was some “match making“ amongst the Australian crowd.

    Finally, Andrew, I do not select for conformity, but for great content. So you will stay smack in the middle of my map, no matter how disruptive you’ll get ;-)

  8. Clinuvel 20 August 2009 at 2 h 29 min ·

    Excellent post and very insightful and useful. Wish we were in the right timezone to take part in the conversations on Fridays!

    Janelle, you can add one more to your list of Australian Pharma’s participating in Social Media.

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