Chaudhry, Aafia. (2011). Social media and compliant pharmaceutical industry promotion: The ASCO 2010 Twitter experience. Journal of Medical Marketing, 11(1), 38-48.            


Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are beginning to establish a significant corporate social media presence, but the extent to which tools such as Twitter are being utilized to discuss and disseminate newly available scientific data remains poorly understood. This study analyzed over 3400 tweets generated by attendees at a major global scientific conference in order to better understand the actual extent and nature of pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry discourse via Twitter. The pharmaceutical industry and its support service providers were the largest segment of ASCO Twitter oncology community users, but unlike physicians, predominantly utilized this medium for promotional dialogue as opposed to clinical news or clinical management discussion. The total number of pharmaceutical companies that utilized Twitter on site as an adjunct to other public relations channels was small. This first-in-kind analysis uncovers key best practices for compliant pharmaceutical and biotechnology social media utilization that can enhance the overall attendee experience at major academic and clinical meetings.


Content analysis of tweets specifically referencing the ASCO 2010 Annual Meeting containing the hashtag, #ASCO10 or #asco10. Tweets were collected by a tweet aggregator service from June 3 to June 10, 2010. Research was conducted on the users of the harvested tweets to study the size and demographic of their followers from June 11 to June 17, 2010.

Key Findings

1)    The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry and its support service providers constituted the highest proportion of #ASCO10 tweeters, followed by the research and health-care provider community and those with roles related to media and communications. The patient and health-care advocacy community also had a significant representation. There was minor representation from the financial services and hospitality industries.

2)    Most pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have established a corporate presence on Twitter. However, as a proportion of total exhibitors present, few pharmaceutical companies engaged in #ASCO10 discussions at the meeting.

3)    Collectively, the pharmaceutical industry and its support service providers appeared to utilize Twitter predominantly for promotional discourse and social/general announcements.

Implications for Practice

Twitter is a viable medium or the industry to effectively engage with practitioners, investigators and patients, and can serve as a critical component of daily corporate public relations activities at key congresses. It is predicted that Twitter will continue to gain popularity with clinical and industry audiences and, in 2011, the  #ASCO11 community will have a larger, more visibly prominent role—undertaking more organized activities during the congress. Twitter provides health-care community users exceptional opportunities to instantaneously discuss, disseminate and exchange relevant clinical practice information and may enhance the overall attendee experience at major conferences.

Article Location

The full article is available for purchase at:








Share this:

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
Follow on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *