Top 50 Industry Voices in Biotech Twittersphere -- 2012


After I last wrote about Twitter's impact on biotech, a few FierceBiotech readers responded with skepticism. They weren't so sure that engaging on a microblogging site was a good use of their time. One reader suggested that it was more for journalists, people like me who need to stay on top of the latest news, than for someone in an operational or research role at a biotech company.

These are all valid points, but Twitter has shown no signs of retreating into obscurity since my brief September 2011 column, "Twitter as biopharma radar." We see new industry professionals--including executives, venture capitalists and researchers--joining the conversation on the social media platform all the time. And this got me thinking about finding a way to share this with readers, and maybe to get more people off the sidelines to share their unique perspectives on topics such as drug R&D, pharma marketing, biotech entrepreneurship and improving human health.

FierceBiotech has been working with Appeering, which tracks industry dialogues on Twitter, since this summer to feature interesting conversations with our readers. Appeering has its own special algorithm for rating individuals that is based on the ratio of how many people they follow versus how many follow them; how well Twitter users' content is shared by others; and the real conversations people have with industry counterparts on the site. The Appeering algorithm, which the company applied to a month's worth of activity data, goes far beyond sheer number of followers to rate a person's influence on Twitter.

There are a lot of reasons to build a Twitter audience, and one great reason is to establish your own personal brand that you can carry with you no matter where you work. Here are a few trends I noticed among the people who made the top-50 list:

  • Many of them create their own content (blogs, articles, books) and share it on Twitter.

  • Beyond retweets, they tend to share personal knowledge in conversations.

  • Many seem to give tweets a personalized touch, the opposite of spamming.

Judge for yourself whether you want to follow the people on this top-50 list, which is composed of executives, physicians, investors and others who to some degree have a tie to the biotech industry. Appeering said that journalists--including folks such as John Carroll (@JohnCFierce), Adam Feuerstein (@adamfeuerstein), Matthew Herper (@matthewherper) and Luke Timmerman (@ldtimmerman)--would have been highly rated if we had included journalists. All those guys are must-follows on Twitter.

However, I asked Appeering to list the top industry folks sans journos because I wanted to highlight the people at universities, hospitals, venture firms and, most of all, biotech companies who have taken the time to share their insights on the industry. While they arguably have as much of a professional duty to tweet as any journalist, we're also including analysts, stock traders and a few consultants this year.

Please let me know your thoughts about this feature and how you think we could improve the criteria we give to Appeering for the list in the future. I believe the following list captures many of the most interesting and influential biotech industry voices on Twitter, and I'd like to thank Appeering for providing us with the data. -- Ryan McBride (email | Twitter)