How is social media helping or hurting within medical affairs? In the final part of our social media series, we’re going to do a deep dive on X, formerly Twitter, and the pros and cons of using this platform as well.


Throughout the years we’ve seen several social media platforms rise and fall in popularity. One that has remained a constant, especially within medical affairs has been X. With so much access to Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs), and company/product updates or news just at your fingertips, it seems that X is most used platform that we’ve seen in industry.

Just like with the other platforms we’ve discussed (TikTok and ChatGPT), there’s pros and cons to X. We’re going to dive into what we think, and what we’ve heard from others within medical affairs.

Within medical affairs, X has been instrumental with the rise of virtual meetings or interactions that occurred post-COVID. X gives people within industry access to Thought Leaders or DOLs that they may never have interacted with, or heard from previously.

As great as this platform is, when it comes to gathering insights from X, or how to measure those insights, that is where things can get tricky for medical affairs.

At the Medical Affairs Professional Society (MAPS) meeting this past month, there was a great panel discussion on this topic. In this meeting, Jennifer Ghith, Taylor Salinardi, and Tim Mitchell highlighted an obstacle that some companies run into when it comes to gathering insights from X.

To start, you must define who is a Key Opinion Leader (KOL)? Who is a Digital Opinion Leader (DOL)? Who could be both? There can be overlap, but not all DOLs are KOLs. Some users of X are patient advocates. Some could be from a specific pharma/biotech company, or from academic or research centers. There are content creators, and some are just content distributors (where they may repost tweets, but don’t put any original content out). The difficulty comes in categorizing these DOLs, and if everyone is aligned on who, and what counts as a KPI.

So how do we overcome this issue? This is an ongoing conversation, but from what we have gathered so far, it starts with internal alignment. It must be clear and communicated what constitutes a meaningful engagement from a digital perspective. Also, your company needs a benchmark for those metrics. Some examples of those benchmarks are how many followers the user has, how many impressions the user has made, if the X user is published, or someone who just reshares information, if they’re a person of influence, if they have a publication history, etc.

Another pro/con we run into with X is the red tape surrounding the engagement component to the platform. Like mentioned above, one of the great things about X is it allows you to connect and engage with DOLs that you not otherwise. It’s a great platform to have those peer-to-peer interactions! But, when you’re representing a pharma/biotech company on this app, you must have limitations to those interactions.

We had an interesting discussion surrounding this at MAPS as well. As an extension to the pharma/biotech company you’re with, there are some compliance constraints that make DOL engagements more challenging. Some of which include, concerns about authenticity. There’s also the fear of putting something out into the universe permanently. The need to work more closely with legal and compliance. The extended timeline it might take to post after waiting for legal/compliance approval. Making sure that there’s alignment with those internal key stakeholders… and that’s just to name a few.

Overall, the consensus is that the pros majorly outweigh the cons with using X. It’s food for thought on how this platform is being used at your organization, and how it can be improved. There’s so many benefits to using this app within medical affairs, but with so much variability, it can be difficult to demonstrate the impact/value and have a universal way to measure that within your company.

As with every social media platform, X has gone through changes throughout the years. The longevity is unknown, but we still find it to be a critical piece to the DOL engagement within industry for now.

Everyone agrees, that in an ideal world there would be a platform unique and specific to medical affairs. One where these discussions and interactions can occur with much less red tape. Until then, you can find us on X here!

Is your organization currently utilizing X? If so, we’d love for you to add to the discussion. Let us know what your pros and cons have been in the comments below!