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Social Media Faceoff: Ambien vs Lunesta (ListenLogic Analysis)

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:04pm 1 Comment

Almost all social media strategists recommend that companies and brands begin their journey into social media by “listening.” But how do you monitor the chatter on 180 million sites, including Twitter, the blogosphere, YouTube and Facebook? And more importantly how do you make sense of the aggregate data?

To answer these questions we used the most advanced, real-time social media listening platform available, ListenLogic. We monitored the social network activity for two competing insomnia products, Ambien and Lunesta, for the month of July, 2009.

Human analysts were used to train the listening platform how to disregard all the spam messages related to “get Ambien cheap” and how to determine if a comment could be considered positive or negative. While other listening platforms only achieve 60% accuracy on “sentiment analysis,” ListenLogic is able to achieve over 90% accuracy in this measure.

The questions we sought to answer were:

1)     What is the total number of comments for each of these brands?

2)     Does one brand have more social media activity than the other?

3)     Which sites generate the most chatter (eg, Twitter, Blogs)?

4)     Are there any people or sites that could be seen as key influencers in the online space?

5)     Overall, are people saying good or bad things about each brand?

6)     Is there a difference in the topics or issues that are being commented on for each brand?

7)     What do the some of the specific comments look like for each brand?

Here’s what we found…

Ambien beats Lunesta 7:1 in Share of Voice

After tracking 180 million websites and cleaning out the promotional chatter, we see that Lunesta had 764 total mentions and Ambien had 5265 mentions. Ambien has been on the market much longer than Lunesta, and in fact is now available as a generic, so it isn’t surprising that they may have more activity on the social networks. But the size of the gap is greater than expected especially given that the two products are roughly comparable in current sales. What would be interesting to see is if the total number of prescriptions for Ambien is seven times greater than for Lunesta-this is data I don’t have.



Twitter Accounts for the Majority of All Online Activity

The data clearly shows that Twitter by far carries more comments than any other social media platform.

Of the 5265 comments for Ambien:

  • 3666 (70%) came from Twitter
  • 226 (4%) came from
  • 89 (2%) came from
  • 78 (2%) came from
  • other

Of the 764 comments related to Lunesta:

  • 3666 (46%) came from Twitter
  • 70 (9%) came from
  • 25 (3%) came from
  • 24 (3%) came from
  • other

What’s interesting is that after Twitter, there is then a divergence in terms of what other sites are most important in terms of volume. And we can see that for the month we looked at, a full 3% of Lunesta activity occurred on the pharmaceutical rep gossip site

No Patient Opinion Leaders Emerge

We dug deeper to try to identify who are the most influential bloggers and Twitterers but no clear pattern emerged. In this particular drug case, in this particular month, there was nobody that emerged high on the “influence scale.”

Ambien Has More Positive Sentiment Than Lunesta

Not only are there a lot more people talking about Ambien than Lunesta, what they are saying is more positive too.

Much of what people say about a brand is neither positive nor negative, so it’s just classified as “neutral.” There are far fewer neutral comments as a percent for Ambien, 41%, than there are for Lunesta which has 84% of all comments being neutral.

For Ambien, 36% of the chatter overall or just over 50% of the non-neutral chatter is positive.


For Lunesta about 4% of chatter overall, or 25% of the non-neutral chatter is positive, with 75% being negative.


Comments Reveal DTC Ad Confusion & Pregnancy Questions

When reviewing the comments for Ambien, many consumers are seeking additional information and clarification.  Common topics:

  • Confusion by the Ambien TV commercial and all the side effects listed - with an ongoing debate over whether the ad announcer is saying “aggressively normal” or “more aggressive than normal”
  • Confusion exists over the safety of taking Ambien while pregnant, with chatter focused on “new mommy” blogs.
  • Others complain about the “Ambien Hangover.”
  • 5%-7% of posts discussed “what I did on Ambien” including sleepwalking and unintentional communications.


With less volume, it was harder to pick up trends in comments for Lunesta. What was noted:

  • Comments about Lunesta being less effective than Ambien
  • Lunesta leading to feelings of depression
  • And Lunesta reps (supposedly) chatting on blogs about how to push Lunesta to doctors



First, you must monitor. Our strongest recommendation is that every marketer use a listening platform to monitor social media comments. Marketers have long invested in 12 person focus groups or thousand person surveys; with social media monitoring, you can quickly and easily see the perceptions of a much wider cut of customers. In the case of Ambien you can literally listen in on over 60,000 comments per year!

Second, track macro results over time. With ongoing analysis you will be able to see:

  • Is our total number of mentions going up or on the decline?
  • Is our share of voice compared to our competition increasing or decreasing?
  • Is our positive sentiment increasing or decreasing?
  • Does a change in sentiment correlate to a new marketing strategy or tactic?

Third, review comments for actionable issues.
Not every comment or topic will require action, but using Ambien as the example, if a there is an ongoing debate over what the DTC ad announcer is actually saying, you have to wonder if many thousands of other viewers out there aren’t also unclear as to what is being said. This could easily be an issue not picked up by focus group panels, but is revealed when you can listen to 60,000 people.

Fourth, if you promote or engage on just one platform, make it Twitter. We suggest that brands can progress in social media first by listening, then by promoting (one way communication), then by truly engaging (dialogue and relationships). With limited time and budgets, this can seem like an awesome task (how do you respond to various blogs, user groups, YouTube comments, etc.). But we can see that Twitter accounts for the vast majority of user-generated comments. So if a brand is going to promote or engage, focusing on Twitter will cover most of the bases.

NOTE: For more information on the ListenLogic social media listening platform that was used in this study visit:

Social Media Faceoff: Lipitor versus Crestor coming next!
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Comments (1)
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I can recommend a reputable pharmacy (Ambien) I received the order and it was on time and the pills work great.
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