Recently, @jilliantate (Jullian Tate), Director, digital strategy, for Integrated Media Solutions in Los Angeles, and someone I follow on Twitter, tweeted this:

“Wow. Great article on how @astrazeneca is using Twitter to monitor mentions of products, and respond. #socpharm #fdasm”

Naturally, I had to have a look and see what all the fuss was about. In the blog post that @jillintate referred to, Bruce Grant was said to have pointed to AstraZeneca as “one company with a solid grasp of the social-media realm. The company has used its Twitter account to monitor any tweets about its products, so that it can respond to consumers directly.”

The Twitter account Grant was undoubtedly referring to is @AZHelps and NOT @Astrazenca (AZ has several Twitter accounts). Practically every tweet made by @AZHelps is similar to these:

“@redban Saw your tweet about access to NEXIUM® (esomeprazole magnesium) AstraZeneca may be able to help. Call us @ 800-236-9933”


“@busterwilson Saw your tweet about access to or the cost of ZOMIG® (zolmitriptan) AstraZeneca may be able to help. Call us @ 800-236-9933”

@AZHelps averages less than one tweet per month! The latest tweet — to @redban, a husband, father, grandfather, media personality, Sheriff’s Chaplain, motorcycle rider, and lover of Jesus! — was made on July 7, 2010. It was in response to this tweet made by @busterwilson on July 5:

“Almost home. Pat drove most the way. Second day of the trip w/extensive migraine! NO Zomig cause Obamacare made insur. Not wiiling 2pay4 it!”

It seems to me that this is a very inefficient way for AZ to use social media resources. First of all, taking two days to respond to a tweet is an eternity in today’s social media world. I hardly remember what I was talking about 2 hours ago, let alone 2 days ago!

It’s also interesting that @AZHelps suggests that @busterwilson call 800-236-9933 rather than visiting the Web site, which is what was recommended to me when I called the number.

I am not sure, however, that AZ can help people like @busterwilson. When I visit, it informs me right up front “If you are an individual making $30,000 or less or a family of four making $60,000 or less you may qualify for an AZ&Me™ Prescription Savings Program.” I doubt that a media personality and Sheriff’s Chaplain such as @busterwilson would qualify.

Although the people answering that AZ number were very friendly and competent, I spent about 15 minutes on the phone before I got the information I needed. Wouldn’t it be much better for @AZHelps to refer people to the Web site rather than the 1-800 number?

The only advantage I would see in calling the 1-800 number is the opportunity for AZ to have a real person to answer your questions. In this case, my experience with call center people was positive.

Still, I don’t find this a very “Wow” use of social media. What do you think?