The Internet was aflutter this week when word got out that Pfizer had taken the dive into Twitter, the micro blog site thatâ€™s being touted as the next big social media tool by some and a dying fad by others. Twitter works by allowing users to enter a 140-character-or-less tidbit of information on its Web site, Twitter.com, or through a cell phone, and the message is blasted out to everyone who is registered to â€œfollowâ€ that user.
Pfizer told Pharm Exec that its Twitter account is just the latest part of an overarching plan to rebuild Pfizerâ€™s communication/media relationâ€™s plan.
â€œWe are looking at social media to find out what the real benefits are to us at this point,â€ Kerins said. â€œThe conversations are happening with or without us in places like Twitter, and if we are going to be serious about doing the best we can to spread our opinion about our company, then have no choice but to be on Twitter.â€
Pfizer is currently using the platform to send links to press releases and other publically disseminated news, such as quarterly reports, deals, even job postings. But so far, there have been no tweets about branded drugs or health information.
The Pfizer announcement comes a few weeks after Novo Nordisk launched its branded Twitter page, which relies on a spokesperson to tweet about his experiences with treatments. However, Novo Nordisk is very careful to ensure that the spokesperson does not mention a brand name in the same tweet as disease information, and includes a link to fair balance information in most messages.
Kerins said that Pfizer is studying how they could use Twitter for a similar tactic, but there are no plans in place right now for the company to launch a branded Twitter page. â€œThe conversation being had across the industry is whether Twitter can be considered a news-dissemination tool or a promotional tool, â€œKerins says. â€œIf itâ€™s promotional, then it needs fair balance language. Thatâ€™s why most of the industry is a little skittish about looking at the product side.â€
Kerins also said that Pfizer has been tracking mentions of the Pfizer corporate name in Twitter, but has not tracked comments about individual brands or responded to commenters. In recent months, high speed Internet provider Comcast has been searching out negative tweets about its product and responding to users directly with some form of customer service.
â€œWe are only two weeks into this so far,â€ Kerins said. â€œWhile Iâ€™m proud we had the ability to launch this corporate Twitter site, we are spending more time listening than posting.â€