5 Things Social Listening Data Can Tell Us About Zika

    Social media has changed the way information about global or local health crises spreads and it is in the process of changing how pharmaceutical companies are using this information to gather more insights about their products and customers. We’ve used the Talkwalker social listening platform to dig deeper into the conversation and find some insights into how the Zika virus has been discussed online in the past six months. But first, let’s recap quickly what’s happened so far and why this topic is so important.

    What is Zika and why is everybody talking about it?

    The discussion around Zika has spread like wildfire online, with more than 10 million online mentions in the last six months. The virus has been one of the most widely discussed topics in the pharmaceutical industry over the course of the last months. In 2015, the spread of the disease started to reach pandemic levels in South and Central America and reports emerged of pregnant women passing the virus on to babies.

    In January, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel warning, and some countries have advised women to postpone getting pregnant altogether until the risks are better understood. While the virus generally only causes mild symptoms, it is thought to cause microcephaly and brain problems when passed on from a pregnant woman to the baby. The WHO thus declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

    It is estimated that more than 1.5 million people have been infected with the virus in Brazil alone, and there were more than 3,500 cases of microcephaly reported in the months between October 2015 and January 2016. As the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are only a few months away, health officials have voiced concern over the outbreak and potential global repercussions of such a large-scale event where many people travel to and from the country.

    Brazilian internet users account for 10% of the total minutes spent on social media worldwide and the country ranks second for overall time spent on social media. Let’s take a look what they and others have said about the virus, and why having this information is an invaluable asset for pharmaceutical brands.

    1. The post with the most engagements comes from Instagram’s official account

    On their official account, Instagram aims to tell the stories behind pictures (often featuring images taken by photographers around the world) as well as promote hashtags from the platform. Their account has more than 156 million followers and they get incredibly high engagement rates for all their posts.

    Instagram official post

    With morethan 638,000 likes and over 2,200 comments, their February 25 post about Zika is no exception. Brazilian photojournalist Mauricio Susin had caught Zika himself and now aims to draw attention to the outbreak situation in his hometown of Salvador.

    2. The top 5 countries where people post about Zika are the U.S., Brazil, Spain, Venezuela and Mexico

    Of the more than 10.8 million results in the last six months for Zika, almost one third came from the U.S., followed by Brazil with 17%. Looking at the top 25 countries, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Panama and El Salvador generated a very high volume of results relative to their population size.

    Talkwalker analytics graphic

    The language distribution chart shows that people talk about Zika almost exclusively in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Other languages like French, German and Italian only play a minor part in the overall online discussion on the topic.

    Talkwalker analytics graphic

    3. The top Zika themes: health vs politics

    The top themes in English are referring mostly to the WHO announcement that Zika is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. For Spanish, the twitter accounts of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) and Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández (@JuanOrlandoH) as well as Venezuelan politician Tarek El Aissami (@TareckPSUV) stood out.

    talkwalker top themes analytics

    talkwalker top themes analytics spanish

    4. The Zika discussion peaked in January and February

    The discussion surrounding the Zika virus online peaked in late January and early February, as the WHO announced its decision to declare the virus a global health emergency and several companies had announced new developments in vaccine research.

    The virality map for the most widely shared Facebook post by a popular science blog shows how the post got shared across several different media types. The post generated more than 11,600 shares and over 20,000 likes.

    talkwalker virality map zika

    5. Among the Top 20 Pharma Companies, Sanofi is mentioned most often in connection with Zika

    The conversation about the Zika virus started to gain traction in November of 2015. Since then, there have been almost 40,000 mentions of the term in connection with the top pharmaceutical companies. The vast majority of those mentions – more than the rest of the top 20 companies combined - came in connection with Sanofi, as they announced the launch of a vaccine research and development project to prevent the Zika virus infection and disease.

    Talkwalker analytics graphic

    Social listening helps brands dig deeper into big industry trends and leverage the information they find for their marketing, PR and product development purposes.

    To find out more about how the top 20 pharmaceutical brands are using social media, download our latest industry report “Pharma Connects On Social – Top 20 Pharmaceutical Companies on Social Media in 2016″

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