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Social Media Trends: The Users’ Choice

Facebook is usually a good barometer for gauging social media trends, so all industries – pharma included – should take notice when it shells out 19 billion dollars for WhatsApp, a company with 300m revenues and 55 staff, and a further billion for Instagram.

The lesson is that users are relying more on stand-alone apps – applications that focus on specific functionality, such as sending text messages (WhatsApp) or sharing pictures (Instagram). Mobile is the main hunting ground for social media and there is evidence that WhatsApp mobile shares are significantly higher than Facebook or Twitter.

Meanwhile a study revealed that Instagram – the image-sharing site – delivered brands 58 times more engagement (e.g. likes and shares) per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.

The Potential

Companies who can tailor their content for a variety of social media channels can reach a much wider range of audiences with the potential for more engagement. Bayer has achieved this with its additional Instagram account, which reaches new audiences with a more emotive and engaging image-based approach compared to usual pharma communications. This appeals to those who prefer visual to text-based information on complex business topics. Another successful Instagram account is run by GE Healthcare. The picture selection communicates the importance of innovation for the company.

Bayer’s colourful Instragram account

Close to the target group: BBC’s awareness campaign on Ebola

Instagram is more readily usable for companies than WhatsApp, which still disallows corporate accounts. However, what it terms a ‘broadcasting group’ permits the creation of a distribution list and the use of WhatsApp as a newsfeed.

Compared with Twitter, the high volumes of shared content (+70%) and superior user numbers (+140%) justify the extra adaptation involved and make WhatsApp an interesting channel for disseminating information.

The BBC used the app for an Ebola awareness campaign. The content, which was modified to short texts and diagrams for WhatsApp, informed people about the risks of the disease, especially for those in the affected regions.

The Key

While it may feel daunting to have to consider a range of different social media platforms, in reality they can all be integrated into a single editorial plan. Such an editorial plan should be developed around specific topics (rather than separate plans per social media channel); for each topic, consider the optimal way of presenting the information (e.g. infographic, video or article) and then choose the most relevant channels accordingly, bearing in mind if / how the asset will need to be adapted for each one.

An integrated editorial plan will tell different strands of the same story across several communications channels. In this way the user journey is expanded and the audience receives multiple perspectives of a topic.

Nicole Tappée & Ross Williams (

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3 Nieman foundation
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5 Forrester Research Inc. 2014 |
6 Strategy Analytics Inc. on PR (
7 (

Veröffentlicht: 16. June 2015 // antwerpes