In the first of this two-part series I shared ten examples of Tweet chats that are transforming pharmaceutical digital engagement as companies encourage public conversation on Twitter with stakeholders including HCPs and patients. The list included chats from the likes of AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, Pfizer, Celgene and Takeda. But which of the examples was the most successful? In the second part of this 2-part series, I’ll consider what makes a successful pharma Tweet chat and provide some tips to help you plan yours.

What makes a successful pharma Tweet chat?

Analysing each of the pharma Tweet chats indicates a diverse range of engagement outcomes, but the likelihood is that each chat had different specific goals. In order to assess the effectiveness of your Tweet chat, it is essential to have a clear sense of what you hope to achieve, and why. Allow me to illustrate with three examples of simple measurable metrics:

Reach: Boehringer Ingelheim’s #COPDChat chats have achieved the greatest cumulative reach to date with more than 35 million ‘impressions’ – a measure of the total number of followers of participants, who could have seen tweets from the chats in their timelines (in practice, the number of impressions provides a poor reflection of actual reach but does give a useful comparator; less far-reaching Tweet chats such as Celgene’s #hemchat achieved less than 1.5 million impressions).

HCP engagement: Tweet chats can provide a valuable platform for encouraging communication with and among HCPs and other stakeholders. Despite not being the most far-reaching pharma Tweet chat we studied, Celgene’s #hemchat had the highest proportion of HCP participants, at 15%.

Long-term engagement: Planned Tweet chats typically take place over a limited time period such as one hour. If a community becomes truly engaged in the chat’s topics, however, then ongoing conversation beyond the time period designated for the chat may continue indefinitely as the community takes ownership of the hashtag. Whilst Novartis’ #MBCADchat Tweet chat did not stimulate the greatest volume over a short period, the #advancedBC hashtag also associated with the chat has seen ongoing engagement among the community and has been used by Novartis outside of scheduled Tweet chats, as part of a wider campaign that includes an Advanced Breast Cancer Community website in collaboration with numerous advocacy organisations.

Ten tips for a successful pharma Tweet chat

Finally, here are ten tips to help you make your pharma Tweet chat a success:

  1. Take part before you host. Either individually, or corporately, you need to have experienced a Tweetchat before hosting one. You could start by simply listening in to a Tweetchat as it takes place by filtering for the chat’s hashtag using a tool such as HootSuite, TweetDeck or Twitterfall.
  2. Have very clear goals and measure your outcomes so you can learn about what works and repeat it in the future.
  3. Plan for compliance. It is essential to include a cross-functional team of colleagues in planning (and ideally hosting) your Tweet chat who can advise on compliance factors such as legal, medical and pharmacovigilance. You’ll need to agree on how to respond rapidly during the chat.
  4. Plan your hashtag: is it easy to read and type? Is it unique? Do you want the online community to continue using the hashtag after the chat?
  5. Consider how you will promote your Tweet chat. Will you ask advocates to share it? Will you use sponsored Tweets, or other digital advertising?
  6. Respect the online community and find ways to add value to it. Pick an engaging topic – not simply what you want to say, but something people want to talk about.
  7. Include an interesting or hard-to-reach expert in the conversation.
  8. Be clear about the rules of engagement, and communicate these when you promote and start your Tweet chat.
  9. Develop a set of questions to guide the conversation. Let people know in advance what these will be.
  10. Integrate your tweet chat with other channels, campaign components, or events.

Now, what’s stopping you?


This article was originally written for Daniel Ghinn’s ‘Pharma Gets Social‘ column on pharmaphorum.