Social Media Pharma Company of the Year

Measuring influence – how we used the Healthcare Social Graph® Score to determine PM Society’s Digital Awards winner

The PM Society’s 2016 Digital Awards took place last month in London, and we were again asked to do the analysis and present the winner of the Social Media Pharma Company of the Year award.

In order for a company to have an effective social media presence it must know where the relevant conversations are taking place, the style of messaging that resonates among the participants, and most importantly who the influencers are within those networks of individuals. We used the Healthcare Social Graph® algorithm to determine whether a company was able to reach their audience from engaging key opinion leaders and their spheres of influence.

The five companies shortlisted for the award were AbbVie, Bayer, Boehringer, Novartis and Pfizer. Symplur partner Josh Lurie was there in London to present the award to the winner. But before we get to the winner, let’s walk through how we computed the data.

From the 606 million healthcare tweets collected during 2015 we analyzed the conversations around the top 10 diseases with the highest mortality rates in the U.K.; Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Stroke, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, COPD, Heart disease/failure, Lymphoma, Bowel Cancer and Pneumonia.

Over 500 different hashtags were part of the dataset covering these 10 diseases. The pharma accounts with the highest influence and engagement were identified by the Healthcare Social Graph Score. We track many different types of pharma Twitter accounts; corporate accounts, disease specific, drug specific, geographically specific, and various communication campaign accounts which total over 500 accounts from dozens of companies.

Healthcare Social Graph Score

This score is powered by a proprietary algorithm that recursively measures everyone’s influence and who they are engaging with. Not every interaction is equal. A mention from an account not known to be influential in healthcare or influential in the health topic at hand is heavily discounted, while mentions from engaged Doctors, Patients, Caregivers, Government accounts etc., or accounts identified as influential in the specific disease are given more importance.

What does this mean in practice?

For people who want to understand these communities and health conversations, the first and most obvious practical benefit of this algorithm is a more true and accurate measure of influence. The algorithm solves the weaknesses found in the simplistic metrics that are too easily manipulated such as number of mentions, tweets, and followers etc.

Given how this algorithm was designed there are some practical consequences for how influence is measured:

  • Patient voices are lifted up. Pharma companies who engaged with or got engaged by patients were seen as more influential. These accounts publicly self-identify as patients, they are often the persons we call e-patients.
  • Caregivers are also given a stronger voice in this algorithm.
  • Pharma companies that engage with Doctors, HCPs, Researchers, Academics who are in the healthcare field also received a stronger influence score.
  • If a pharma company received a mention from an account that is incredibly influential in the disease topic at hand, that engagement was worth an order of magnitude more than a mention from an account seen by the community as of little relevance.
  • Spam, mention spam bots, random retweets, or mentions by people unknown to healthcare were counted as of no value. Believe it or not, but we still see a few organizations engage in purchased mentions by bot networks even though such behavior is incredibly obvious in analysis tools like Symplur Signals.

Social Media Pharma Company of the Year is – Boehringer

From the millions of tweets that were analyzed in the 10 disease areas selected, the algorithm ultimately found one company above the others and that was Boehringer. Congratulations to all those individuals who contributed to Boehringer’s result!

It is our hope that from the transparency on how this algorithm works, more companies will see the value in not only engaging stakeholders with traditionally strong voices, but including everyone in healthcare.


To learn more about the Healthcare Social Graph® algorithm and measure your performance, please contact Josh Lurie by scheduling a demo of Symplur Signals.


Symplur - @symplur

Symplur creates products purpose-built for healthcare to make the move from insight to action as simple as possible.

One Response to “Social Media Pharma Company of the Year”

  1. Todd Eury

    Bravo Symplur! Your analysis is spot on. The aspect of this study & award most important and relevant to the purpose of social media is the Patient voice is lifted up. There are those Pharma Companies who DO NOT engage the public. Pharma companies who engaged with or got engaged by patients are more influential. The Digital Health ‘gold rush’ is happening right now and it will not last forever. Those Pharma companies who understand and leverage social will be in a completely different level than all the others who grasp tightly to the status-quo. Let’s podcast on this topic and reach out to our 57,000 Subscriber / Listeners.

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