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SAMPS was previously Association of Commercial Professionals for Life Sciences (ACP-LS)

Thermo and Quintiles Have the Most Followers. What About You?

February 22, 2013

twitter-bird-blue-on-whiteOne of your customers just helped sell something to a colleague. Congrats!

Uh, oh. But another customer just turned one of your hot leads lukewarm. Maybe even cool. Ouch.

Had you been reading your Twitter account, you might have caught wind of this. Or would you?

We examined a group of leading life science product and service suppliers regarding their use of Twitter, and explored the similarities and differences between B2B and B2C Twitter use. As of early February 2013, Thermo Scientific led the pack for products suppliers with over 21,000 followers, and Quintiles led the pack for services providers with over 7,000 followers.

“Great. Just what I need. Another know-it-all social-media-mogul wannabe writing yet another end-of-the world business warning about why my company will fail if I don’t spend 80% of my time tweeting to my Facebook friends about the latest addition to my Pinterest boards.”

Who, us? No, no, no, no, no, no…

In the middle of planning a drop-dead interesting SAMPS Annual Meeting, we took a quick snapshot of what the SAMPS community was currently doing with Twitter (which we both will tweet to our Facebook friends so that they can see that we added this article to our Pinterest boards).

Show me the Twitter data

Here’s what the data looked like as of February 9, 2013 for a select group of life science product and service suppliers.

Twitter name Category Followers Tweets Following
@ChromSolutions (ThermoScientific) Products 21,468 3,725 420
@LIFECorporation Products 16,132 2,799 777
@AppliedBio Products 11,289 860 200
@Merck4Bio (Merck Millipore Bio - not for North America) Products 10,781 1,927 71
@Quintiles Services 7,167 1,790 1,832
@SigmaAldrich Products 5,301 872 720
@LifeTechEMEA Products 5,071 1,908 455
@EMDMilliporeBio Products 3,950 3,089 1,686
@WatersCorp Products 3,104 2,748 2,085
@PerkinElmer Products 2,786 1,130 624
@BioRadLifeSci Products 2,681 713 125
@BioRadGenomics Products 2,136 1,189 818
@INC_Research Services 2,096 752 2,059
@thermosci Products 1,993 2,832 561
@Affymetrix Products 1,870 2,468 749
@GenomicApps (Affymetrix) Products 1,694 945 1,298
@BDBiosciences Products 1,631 74 21
@NEBiolabs Products 1,467 559 211
@VWR Products 1,313 74 11
@Parexel Services 1,189 720 177
@PPDCRO Services 1,161 400 95
@ICONplc Services 1,123 1,492 452
@LifeTechSupport Products 1,114 2,073 1,117
@inVentClinical Services 1,069 392 266
@LonzaGroup Services 944 79 24
@LifeTechSelect Products 915 1,619 500
@PRAINTL Services 764 192 127
@CRiverLabs Services 758 1,155 277
@BioRad_LSG_Euro Products 694 155 667
@PallCorporation Products 686 128 370
@Covance Services 644 286 458
@MobiusSingleUse (Millipore) Products 623 134 933
@MilliporeBrasil Products 619 269 204
@ERTglobal Services 554 338 685
@VWR_UK Products 521 96 104
@EMD_Millipore Products 472 393 406
@MerckMillipore Products 309 181 277
@Pall_LabNotes Products 294 190 534
@EMDMilliporePS (process solutions) Products 156 207 127
@biorad Products 130 0 0
@bioradsa (south Africa) Products 115 49 0
@affymetrixevent Products 79 26 35
@Mpiresearch_cro Services 59 34 25
@CovanceMA Services 58 59 222
@EurofinsBiolab Services 30 11 157
@Affymetrix_J Products 14 0 3
@GELifeSciences Products 13 0 1

Wondering what your competitors are doing on Twitter?  

Leading the pack as of February 9, 2013 is the Thermo Scientific @ChromSolutions feed, where the content ranges from purely promotional,

Thermo1

 

to objectively educational,

Thermo2

but also includes some fun conversation with the scientific community.

Thermo3

 

Life Technologies, a strong second overall, uses Twitter to promote products and create rapport with customers,

LifeTech1

 

but also adds some creative fun to the mix.

LifeTech2

 

A nice example of integrating Twitter into a content marketing strategy is provided by Quintiles.

Q1

 

Looking to promote a thought leader? Check out the tweet from INC Research.

INC

Life science customer support via social media vs B2C social media

Interestingly, one function that this quick study didn’t come across was technical support or customer service problem solving issues on Twitter. While at least one organization (Life Technologies) has a dedicated Twitter account for technical support issues, most all of the tweets are promotional or informational. This could reflect the limited nature of this research, or perhaps life science customer and technical support issues show up on other sites. For instance, technical support issues may be featured on more life science specific websites like Scientist Solutions.

ScientistSolutions

Or perhaps the lack of using Twitter for life science supplier customer and technical support is in part due to a fundamental difference between B2C and B2B use of Twitter. Unlike B2C customers, a dissatisfied life science B2B customer may prefer to deal privately with with a supplier.

Lets dig a little deeper.

It's one thing to ask a technical question on a site like Scientist Solutions, but it's another to complain in a public forum. A B2C customer who complains about a problem represents themself, but a B2B client represents an organization, and so has to consider how the complaint will be viewed by that organization AND by future employers, especially if the claim is not easy to substantiate. To this end, many life science businesses, especially pharma, biopharma, medical device, and diagnostic companies, have rules that may preclude employees from posting certain comments.

How many Twitter feeds are enough?

Your organization isn’t limited to one Twitter account, also referred to as a feed. It’s feasible to create separate feeds for different product areas, different purposes, and for different subsidiaries of a large conglomerate. One such example is the Life Technologies technical support feed mentioned previously.

The tweets we’ve shared to this point are largely commerically oriented, but so long as it meets your organization’s regulations, you could create Twitter feeds to broadcast news about personnel announcements, industry and scientific news, subject recruitment for clinical research studies, pretty much anything that passes muster with your company. In other words, Twitter could be a significant component of your public relations and content marketing strategy tool kit. And let’s not forget our friends in Human Resources, who might want to piggyback their recruiting efforts to your social media stream.

Multiple feeds need care and feeding

By feeding, we mean managing, that is creating, monitoring, and revising the content flow in your Twitter feeds. Like any content marketing plan, strategy is key. Without a plan AND a process that includes scheduling, creation, and assessment, how can you assure that your desired messages are being delivered (and the dangerous ones blocked)? So, more feeds means more work, but the chance for greater rewards also grows.

Will social media put money in your pocket?

The folks at the McKinsey Global Institute certainly think so. And we’re not talking pennies.

In a study published in July 2012, McKinsey researchers concluded that businesses are leaving 900 billion to 1.3 trillion dollars on the table because they don't take advantage of the commercial influence of social media.1 The McKinsey report also cites that one-third of all consumer spending could be influenced by social media.1

How does this translate into the B2B world?  Would this boost the life science product and service community, a notoriously challenging market that requires a specialized marketing strategy? Maybe not, but does a 10% boost in total influence sound bad to you? McKinsey also proposes that the wise use of social media could boost worker productivity by up to 25%.

Table 2 summarizes some of McKinsey’s thinking regarding how social media could increase sales and productivity.

McKinsey

From The social economy: Unlocking productivity and value through social technologies. McKinsey Global Institute.1

And the point of all this is?

Marketing to the scientific community is tough enough. And now during most weeks, somebody throws a colorful infographic on your desk or emails you (or tweets you?) a link to an article predicting the downfall of any company not applying the latest form of a geo-locating, content-strategy-agnostic, responsive-design-based technology newly hatched from a 3-day conference attended by venture-capital-chugging Silicon Valley/Alley darlings.

The McKinsey report suggests that profits can be increased greatly by incorporating social media into your marketing plans. Check out the executive summary or full report and assess its potential impact on your business.

But why is so much emphasis being placed on social media? Ask 5 people and you’ll probably get 10 opinions, but maybe it comes down to the one of the most primal reasons—trust. John Doherty shares data showing declines in the number of people who subscribe to information feeds provided by a website (RSS feeds) at the same time that Twitter traffic is increasing. The data aren’t exhaustive, but there’s evidence of a trend away from relying on subscription information from an enterprise versus information you can obtain from someone or some group with whom you’re familiar on a more personal level.

To paraphrase Mr. Doherty, people trust people or brands that they know.

References:

1. The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies. Chui M, Manyika J, Bughin J et al. McKinsey Global Institute. July 2012. Available athttp://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/big_data_the_next_frontier_for_innovation. July 2012.

2. Doherty, J. What The Shift From RSS to Social Media Means for Marketers. Available at: http://www.johnfdoherty.com/shift-rss-social-media-means-marketers/. Accessed February 9, 2013.


Authors: Alan Gerstein and Chuck Drucker

SAMPS, Sales And Marketing Professionals in Scientific research, is the first and only organization dedicated to sales and marketing professionals within the life sciences.

The association’s goal is to serve its members who work in commercial roles for life science products and services companies and associated businesses, globally.
 
SAMPS was previously named ACP-LS. We feel that SAMPS more clearly describes the membership, and will form a better foundation from which to expand this membership globally. 
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