Yesterday, facebook opened comments on all its fan pages and consequently closed a chapter in the book of pharma social media engagement.
As expected, (and brilliantly monitored by Jonathan Richman here) many companies, like Novartis, immediately shut down their fan pages in reaction to these changes. Other companies though, like Boehringer or JNJ, had enabled comments ages ago already and happily continued engaging on facebook. Still some others, like Pfizer or GSK seemed yet unsure as to how to handle this situation.
This made me wonder: How do you make the decision whether to stay on facebook? Will it make a difference to anyone that some pharmacos chose to leave?
As always, I had to delve into some stats to make up my mind up about these questions. Let us thus compare these four companies’ fan pages in terms of number of fans, posts and engagement (ie. Likes and comments received).
Just as on twitter, Pfizer is leading the benchmark with over 31k fans! Followed by JNJ with over 18k fans. Novartis had a disappointingly low number of fans, compared to their success on twitter, for example.
Next, I looked at how many times these companies had updated their fan pages this month.
These updates are quiet different from Pfizer or GSK posts focused on providing news and links. Novartis actually had no activity in this period, but I had to add one, so that it would show up in the graphic
Next burning question is, of course, did it make a difference? Did Boehringer and JNJ succeed in attracting more engagement from their fans on facebook due to the nature of their posts?
Of course they did! And while these numbers do not seem overwhelming, they place Boehringer and JNJ into the sweetspot of those 0.5%-2% response rates that direct mailing companies dream of (see here). Kudos to Pfizer who immediately upon enabling comments, released a new post and got 6 likes (7 including mine)!
(Again GSK and Novartis allowing no comments, I obviously had to put in a number to make them appear on my graph.)
1. Disengaged: Those, like Novartis, that set up their channel one way initially, but then failed to work on internal processes to manage engagement once facebook opened the comment section. These companies had no choice but to pull out. And luckily so for them! If, by now, you have not been able to make the case to your legal folks that you need to engage, if you cannot post engaging content nor have figured out how to engage, it is safer, you end it here.
2.Guard railers: These companies seem to have made the case internally that it is important to engage in social media, but are not yet 100% comfortable. They are both still seeking their guardrails as well as communicating to their audience what to expect from their engagement. See this facebook update from Pfizer:
3. Engaged: If, like JNJ and Boehringer, the whole point of your facebook presence all along has been seeking engagement, facebook’s changes to their fan page comment policy did not matter to you at all. Comments had been turned on all along.
As you can see in this matrix, if you engage (x-axis number of posts), you will harvest engagement (size of the bubble). So far so good, but now back to my initial question: How do you make the decision whether to stay on facebook or not? And will it make any difference to anyone that some pharmacos chose to leave?
The reasons to stay engaged in social media for pharma are, of course, numerous: to improve reputation, inject humanity into the stiff corporate presence, provide support and information to patients and carers…and hoping that doing all of this better than your competitors will somehow give you an advantage with your stakeholders. Please also check out Steve Woodruff’s post and the great conversation in his comment section.
Yet, if none of these “touchy-feely reasons” do it for you, consider this: JNJ had 319 reactions or a response rate of 2% from its fans on facebook. According to this post, it takes about $5000 to get a piece of content approved and ready to go. So JNJ spent $15.67 per response obtained.
In comparison, getting out a press release to NEJM costs at least $23000. In order to get to the same cost and response rate, JNJ would need 3476 reactions to their NEJM press release!
…when was the last time you got fan mail from a NEJM subscriber?