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Digital Influencer Marketing for Pharma Brands

Think beyond KOLs to integrate and amplify brand outreach

From sponsored blog posts to eye-catching ads curated by prominent Instagrammers, influencer marketing is on the rise. A chronically late-adopter of social trends and platforms, pharma has supported KOLs with the tools to engage professional and patient communities – but with muted fervor as compared with its sexier industry peers, leaving open opportunities for cross-industry inspiration to further advance the practice.

A recent article by Gregg Fisher and Kevin Michels-Kim highlights simple ways pharma can close the gap between its established use of KOLs at the personal level and supporting true digital opinion influencers (DOIs). Below is a summary:

Step 1: Choose a relevant platform and thematic focus for your disease area.

Assess your disease state community through a digital lens and study channel level engagement. Which channels are most relied upon and how does that distinguish your category from others? What are the concerns and pain points garnering conversation, and where do these themes fall along the patient journey or ATU continuum? Is your audience highly segmented with respect to their views on your priority messaging topics? To create a winning influencer partnership, it’s essential to know your audience.

Step 2: Identify the influencers of most resonance.

Armed with an understanding of channels and the topics that matter to your community, find influencers who are well aligned to support and bring resonant nuance to your marketing. While follower reach of a KOL is a critical consideration, your command of the landscape and access to savvy marketing resources positions you to focus more on the message and its potential resonance. Set yourself up for success by aligning yourself based on a proper balance of reach and message and allow the partnership to fill in the gaps.

Step 3: Create a mutually beneficial strategy.

Remain open-minded when reaching out to an influencer, communicating your goals and vision while absorbing their perspective, gleaned in the real world, that gave rise to their organic following. DOI engagement plans must be designed to deliver mutual value, so collaborate to craft a custom plan.

These steps are a great starting point, but there is more to the story. A large number of followers does not always correlate with influence. Authenticity and hard won trust is a must, and measures of engagement, shares, likes and comments often tell more about influence than mere followers. Simply put, patients connect with individuals they trust and relate to, especially in the social realm. Put another way, your DOI should be imminently relatable to your target audience, speaking to them from a place of empathy.

A well-executed influencer strategy can result in truly additive content, garnering more trust and greater audience resonance. A positive partnership will also leave the door open for future collaborations, turning your influencer into a long-term brand evangelist.

Read the full article, Beyond KOL Marketing: Tapping Digital Opinion Influencers, by Gregg Fisher and Kevin Michels-Kim here.

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