Pharma brand marketers have a problem with Twitter. They can only use 140 characters (about 20 words) at a time. That limitation, however, has not stopped some drug marketers from posting branded Tweets (see “Novo Nordisk’s Branded (Levemir) Tweet is Sleazy Twitter Spam!“).

If the goal, however, is to amass followers, pharma brands on Twitter should use a nice image of a patient as part of the brand’s profile rather than the brand logo. It’s even better to use a “conceptual image” of the patient enjoying the benefits than a “professional head shot” of a person.

This was one takeaway from a Twitter experiment performed by Krū Research (see “DTC Pharma-Twitter Experiment“). The purpose of the experiment was to determine the optimal way a pharma brand can connect with health consumers on Twitter.

In this experiment, Krū Research created several fictitious Twitter accounts:

  1. A regular person with no association to insomnia or a drug; this was our control
  2. A person who mentions they have insomnia in their profile; this was considered a patient-peer unaffiliated with pharma
  3. A person with insomnia who is representing an unbranded insomnia website; this was our paid patient opinion leader profile
  4. An insomnia brand

The fictitious brand was named “Restira” and the Twitter brand account, which no longer exists, was @RestiraRx.

I won’t get into the details, but the experiment measured the follow-back rate for these accounts after each made one Tweet. The results are shown in the figure below:

Kevin Kruse, President of Kru Research, summed up the experiment’s results this way:

“The results of the first two phases of our research suggest that brand managers would be wise to use patient opinion leaders tied to an unbranded website to maximize their Twitter followers. If the preference is to tweet from the brand itself, the use of an interesting photo that is not the brand logo will get the best results.”

Kruse will be a guest on my Pharma Marketing Talk live talk show/podcast on Friday, July 31, 2009 at 10:30 AM Eastern US. More details here.

Disclaimer: Kru Research is an Pharma Marketing News advertising client. I am the owner and publisher of Pharma Marketing News.