Pharma industry social communication in Italy: quantitative and qualitative analysis of data from a Social Observatory




Big Pharma, Digital communication, HealthCare, Social communication, Social network


Introduction. We developed a Social Observatory in the HealthCare (HC) & Pharma sector to better understand how the focus by Pharma companies on social communication has been implemented, following the new legislation that allows social advertising for over the counter (OTC) drugs.

Methods and results. Activity on social networks between 01/06/2018 and 31/05/2019 has been analysed. The social channels monitored were: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Activity from 13 companies with HQ in Italy (Abiogen, Alfasigma, Angelini, Chiesi, Doc Generici, Dompé, Italfarmaco, Kedrion, Mediolanum, Menarini, Molteni, Recordati, Zambon) and 16 companies with HQ elsewhere (Abbvie, Amgen, Amway, Bayer, Gilead, GSK - Glaxo SmithKline, J&J/Janssen, Merck Serono, MSD, Nature’s Bounty, Novartis, P&G, Pfizer, Reckitt Benckiser, Roche, Sanofi) was captured and analysed using both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Italy HQ companies seem to use these channels to a lesser extent compared to companies HQs elsewhere. Examples of all the different Brand characters (i.e. Friendly, Playful, Warm, etc), tones (personal, honest, humble, etc) and purposes (engage, entertain, educate, etc) were captured and discussed in detail in the article.

Conclusions. Pharma companies have a wide-ranging approach to communicating through social media. These data represent an important baseline to carefully analyse the evolution of social communication of HC&Pharma sector in Italy.


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How to Cite

Tissoni, F., Venditti, G., & Canzano, M. (2021). Pharma industry social communication in Italy: quantitative and qualitative analysis of data from a Social Observatory. AboutOpen, 8(1), 35–47.



Original research articles


Received 2021-04-29
Accepted 2021-05-13
Published 2021-06-19