A report from market researchers at Cegedim Strategic Data comparing the ranking of pharmaceutical companies' spend on traditional promotional channels to their presence on Facebook and Twitter, puts Pfizer at the top for both.

The analysis of social network presence focused on the top 100 pharma companies in terms of traditional sales force and marketing channel spending. CSD then identified the top 30 drugmakers for Facebook and for Twitter "based on their presence and healthcare-focused activities".

Pfizer ranks first in traditional promotional spending, and is also present in the top spots for social media presence: third position for the number of 'likes' on Facebook, and first for the number of followers on Twitter. Novartis is second in the first category but in 17th for 'likes' on Facebook, and fifth on Twitter for the amount of followers.

Merck & Co is in third on the traditional spend side, but "seems to show contrasting positions for social media activity", says CSD. The company ranks tenth on the number of Facebook 'likes' on Facebook, but comes top for the number of pages. On Twitter, the US giant ranks fifteenth for the number of followers but third for the number of tweets.

Roche second for Twitter followers

The report also gives a special mention  to Johnson & Johnson (11th, promotional spend), which is in second position for the number of 'likes' on Facebook, while Roche (15th, promotional spend) is second for the number of followers on Twitter. Christopher Wooden, head of promotion audits at CSD said the study shows clearly that "most major life science companies are establishing a presence in social media - but coverage, methods and sophistication do vary significantly".

He added that in broad terms, "we see an attempt by companies to reach out and create a positive, on-going message about their contribution to better health. The ability to target that message and encourage constructive dialogue through social media will bring value".