On Monday, Johnson & Johnson launched its branded YouTube channel, further bolstering its presence in the world of social media. Decked out in J&J's signature red-and-white color scheme, the channel currently offers a small selection of health information videos created by current NBC News chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman during her tenure with J&J.
"There had been a number of videos produced when Nancy worked in our corporate communications office," said J&J spokesperson Marc Monseau. "We were tasked with figuring out how to use these, and we realized that they would be very useful online."
Video sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, offer pharma companies a place to show off media assets that are currently collecting dust. While companies could host the videos on their own branded Web sites, YouTube drives massive traffic with more than 80 million users.
And unlike blogs or forums, pharma companies can take full control of online video. They don't have to worry about negative comments being left after a post (YouTube comments can be turned off), and they can brand and edit the content as they see fit, tailoring the programming for a particular audience. Videos can also be removed as needed.
"In the last few years, we've been dabbling with social media and blogs; it has been quite an interesting experience," Monseau said. "It's changing communications."
I Want My RxTV
While J&J is the first pharma company to create its own YouTube channel, it's not the first pharma to use the video-sharing service for promotional means. King Pharmaceuticals took advantage of the Web site when it launched its non-branded high blood pressure Super Bowl ad in early 2007. To make the most of the multi-million dollar spot, it snagged top key searches on Google and added the 60-second commercial to YouTube. Novartis also ran its Fluflix campaign on YouTube, asking people to submit their own video about what it's like to have the flu.
"We've seen a proliferation on YouTube of health content and health videos," explained Neha Parekh, senior marketing manager of health at Google. "There has been an embrace from the healthcare community to put up videos and have a platform to create dialogue."
Just like all other forms of media on the Internet, there are no pharma regulations pertaining to videos for online platforms such as YouTube. "It's up to pharma companies to decide how to best utilize the Web," Parekh said. "There is concern, but pharma is trying to figure out what they can do, because they know that the consumers are [on the Web]."