Menu Icon
Menu Icon


Pharma Marketers’ Eyes on the Visual Web

Jennifer Starr

Posted by

The Internet has always been an instrument of communication, but in case you haven’t noticed, images are fast becoming the preferred method of message delivery. According to

  • More than 500 million photos are shared each day.
  • One hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute.
  • There are around 1.5 billion smartphone subscribers globally.
  • Users check their phones 150 times a day.

“With a camera in everyone’s pocket and the web itself becoming high-definition (think bigger images and less text), it’s become easier than ever to communicate visually,” explained Apu Gupta of CNBC. Between Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, more than 400,000,000 images are shared daily. Add in Snapchat, Google and Pinterest, and those numbers skyrocket, further emphasizing that people really do want to show, not tell.

Source: Optimal Targeting

The appeal of images over text may be partially attributed to the eight-second average human attention span, which is one second less than that of a goldfish according to  The human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, and approximately 65% of the population are visual learners. (source: No doubt the dramatic rise in surfing the Web via smartphone has contributed to the popularity of bite-sized visual content as well.

Pinning Interests on Pinterest
Pinterest, a virtual “dreamboard,” debuted in May 2011 and has grown exponentially, with a 4,224% increase in time mobile web users spent on the site, a 6,056% increase in time mobile app users spent with the app and a 1,047% increase in the number of unique visitors. Below are a few examples of how pharmaceutical companies are using these visual platforms.

  • Bayer — Reportedly the first pharma company to join Pinterest in April 2012, Bayer uses Pinterest to share images and information about its activities in the U.S. Currently Bayer has nine boards showcasing its business activities, which focus on healthcare, nutrition and high-tech materials. In the fall of 2012, Bayer pledged to donate $10 for every breast cancer and prostate cancer “pin to donate” image that was re-pinned to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada and Prostate Cancer Canada.  Bayer currently has 514 followers on Pinterest.
  • Boehringer Ingelheim — Boehringer Ingelheim hosts 20 boards, including a pinboard charting its history. Its visual focus on lung cancer and COPD is a good example of how to use Pinterest to highlight disease awareness, education and management. Boehringer Ingelheim currently has 539 followers on Pinterest.

Instant Images on Instagram
Instagram, a photo sharing app and website founded in 2010, was purchased by Facebook in 2012; video sharing was added in 2013. Instagram boasts more than 130 million active users, 1 billion “likes” every day and more than 16 billion photos hosted. Some report that younger social media users are flocking to Instagram … and away from Facebook.

“Selfies” (a photograph taken of oneself and typically uploaded onto social networking sites) have become increasingly popular on Instagram. Editors even included “selfie” in the 2013 update to the 5th edition of the American Heritage Dictionary.

Chelsey Walters, an associate analyst on Intouch Solutions’ social media team, discussed pharma and Instagram in a previous blog post. “Some pharmaceutical companies have mastered the larger platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but currently there are very few pharmaceutical companies using the newer, up-and-coming platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest or Instagram as part of their marketing strategy,” explained Walters.

Although pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to utilize Instagram, support groups for disease states are easily found. Diabetes_Related is a popular group, for example, with 2,028 followers.

There are a few healthcare-related companies utilizing Instagram and keeping information light and fun, like Boehringer Ingelheim’s recent #TBT (“throwback Thursday”) nod to their first patent.

Boehringer Ingelheim has 378 followers on Instagram, Galderma Italia  has 143 followers, and GE Healthcare  has 155.

Opportunities Within the Visual Web
Visual content will continue to dominate in 2014. Pharma companies can gain even more of a presence in the digital space by increasing visual content, decreasing text-heavy articles and embracing fast-growing visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.

Ross Simmonds of Social Media Today explained that storytelling is “the glue” to building stronger relationships with audiences, and visuals plays a key role in being unforgettable. “From the time we're kids, visuals have played a significant role in our ability to understand and connect with stories ... In marketing, storytelling is an art that needs to be considered and applied like a science,” he said.


“Marketing is all about storytelling, and visual canvases offer brands the best opportunities to communicate with audiences.”



* All fields are required.

By on

You may also like