GSK's social media savvy bags it 2nd place in digital ranking of big British businesses

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has shone in a ranking of the social media savvy of the 100 largest publicly traded firms in the United Kingdom. The Big Pharma ranked second on the list, an outcome that suggests at least some drugmakers compare favorably to their peers in other industries.

GSK CEO Andrew Witty

Big Pharma as a group faced years of criticism over the slow adoption of social media, but consultancy Radley Yeldar found such reticence is common to large businesses in many fields. The review of the FTSE 100--the largest companies on the London Stock Exchange by market capitalization--identified many "digitally immature" businesses, characteristics of which include having no presence on social media and websites that aren't optimized for viewing on mobile devices. Seven companies have no social media presence.

The report viewed social media as GSK's strong suit, calling the company's operation a "standout" that helped it snag second place on the digital maturity ranking. GSK was given a much higher score than many more consumer-facing businesses, such as supermarket chain Morrisons and television network ITV. The Big Pharma was joined in the top 10 by other companies that have faced reputation-damaging scandals in recent years, notably bank HSBC and supermarket Tesco. The finding led some to suggest a PR crisis can prompt firms to raise their game on social media.

If the theory is correct, it would go some way to explaining why GSK--which has been embroiled in a high-profile bribery scandal--performed so much better than the other big beasts of British biopharma. AstraZeneca ($AZN) ranked 41st with a slightly above average score. Shire ($SHPG) fared far worse, occupying joint 70th place. Medtech player Smith & Nephew ($SNN) was ranked 63rd.

- read The Telegraph's article