Attention YouTube Users: GSK Wants You

July 30, 2008

Pharmaceutical Executive

Volume 0, Issue 0

Glaxo launched a YouTube page targeting potential employees through YouTube. One video in particular features CEO Andrew Witty talking about his adventures in GSK. Is this the future of recruitment?

GlaxoSmithKline is now the latest drug company to dabble in the world of social media. Following in Johnson & Johnson's footsteps, the British pharma giant began posting short videos on YouTube—but this time the focus is different.

GSK's foray into online video is different from the other pharma companies that have dipped their toes into the medium. Some, like J&J, have repurposed older health information videos, while others have uploaded their unbranded television campaigns to YouTube to stretch the lifespan of the ads. GSK is using the site to promote the company and recruit new employees. Links to GSK's corporate Web site can be found on its YouTube page, but little information is given beyond the videos and a small logo.

Company CEO Andrew Witty graces the first video, which features the GSK head talking about his journey through the company ranks, emphasizing what makes GSK great. Another, more polished video spotlights employees talking about why the like working for the company.

The videos represent GSK's initial step in developing a digital media strategy. "We felt employee recruitment would be appropriate for a YouTube audience," Sarah Alspach, GSK director of US corporate media told Pharm Exec on Monday. "We've also uploaded a few other videos about community work and all of the stuff we're doing from a corporate/social responsibility standpoint. We are proud of it, and it's difficult sometimes to get [that] out in other ways."

What GSK has in common with most of the other pharma companies currently involved with social media is that they all avoid placing branded information on third party sites, and most (including GSK) have turned off all comment features. GSK has gone one step further by forbidding users to embed the videos onto personal blogs or Web sites.

"At this time, there aren't plans to put branded content on the site," Alspach said. "We are aware of the regulatory constraints and challenges, and realize that this is uncharted territory for pharmaceutical companies. However, we are also very interested in exploring social media opportunities."

To date, GSK hasn't launched any other social media programs, and is hush-hush about future plans, but Alspach says the company is open to all digital outlets.

Shellie Caplan, president of job placement firm Caplan Associates tells Pharm Exec that while YouTube isn't a traditional route for recruitment, social media sites such as LinkedIn are becoming a growing source for HR reps to search out new employees. Much like Facebook, LinkedIn allows users to befriend acquaintances. However, the site lists full resumes of registered users, and members are searchable through their work experience.

"It's a good technique because people aren't going onto LinkedIn as a job board, like Monster," Caplan said. "They're just getting connected to people they know. I think we're going to see people using a lot of these different kinds of social networks [for recruitment]."