Who do people turn to when they’re seeking an opinion/advice on a business or its offerings?
Influencers and peers (friends, relatives, etc.).
With these two, people are not looking at the possibility of getting authentic information – they’re looking at the “direct path” to reliable guidance. Trust is already there, and the relevancy of influencers and peers paves the way for actionable direction.
That’s why businesses in every industry are starting to work with influencers.
Those are into influencer marketing already are averaging (in ROI terms) a whopping $6.50 on every dollar they’re spending. It’s hard to question a marketing strategy that delivers such an attractive ROI.
Companies are working with influencers of every kind (peer-to-peer/long-tail, VIPs, professionals) in an attempt to form a deep connection with consumers. The hard part of delivering the company’s message organically and igniting the purchase/action intent of the audience is covered by the influencer.
That’s the life you want, isn’t it? Total freedom, as someone else conveys the message in an authentic manner. Some control, as you have a say in what type of messaging is promoted. You pick and choose the influencers you want to work with. You define the budget for the campaigns.
When you implement the right influencer marketing strategy, that is.
While the marketing strategies applied in the healthcare industry are the ones similar to those applied in other industries, pharma needs to be careful when working with influencers because this marketing strategy is evolving fast. It should also be noted that the healthcare industry is highly regulated, so businesses in this industry face marketing barriers that don’t exist in other industries. As a result, healthcare influencer marketing is a lot more complicated.
The thing is, subject matter experts rule the healthcare industry, and so picking an influencer based on their popularity is the wrong strategy to begin with. That’s exactly what the company behind the drug, Diclegis, did wrong. They worked with Kim Kardashian. She promoted the drug on her Instagram account, saying it was effective in treating common side-effects of pregnancy.
The post was met with a lot of negativity and many questioned this approach as she had no expertise in healthcare. The brand’s dream of overnight Instagram domination was shattered.
- P2P Influencers & Subject Matter Experts Lead the Way
Why healthcare companies still collaborate with celebrities (aka top-tier influencers)? The reality is that many are uninformed that the 1:1 old school tactic of the past doesn’t work in this day and age. People look for a familiar tone that presents facts and other types of information in an authentic manner, especially when it comes to healthcare as it is a sensitive area in their lives.
Enter P2P influencers and subject matter experts. People want to be engaged and educated by these two within the healthcare and medical communities. P2P influencers share their practical experiences in a way that makes them an appealing resource for their followers. Subject matter experts deliver complex medical information to consumers in a way that it’s easily understood and related to.
- P2P Healthcare/Medical Influencer Example
It’s important to know that healthcare/medical companies that practice influencer marketing well don’t work with P2P influencers for their company’s own good, but develop relationships with movers and shakers to reach further audiences. Global Cardio Care does this pretty well.
The company specializes in providing EECP therapy to patients with angina and other heart disease ailments. EECP is an alternative treatment solution that increases blood flow to the heart, and allows patients to heal without invasive measures.
P2P influencers for Global Cardio Care are people who visit their facility and then share their experiences with their peers. For instance, a patient visited Global Cardio Care and made a post about his visit on Instagram. He used the hashtag #globalcardiocare and other relevant hashtags, which generated engagement and made other people curious about this medical company and the procedure.
- Healthcare/Medical Subject Matter Experts
Advocating on behalf of businesses, subject matter experts do more than simply creating and sharing content on different online and offline channels. They deliver value-added messaging, feeding an audience with resources worth consuming.
A medical journal (peer reviewed) pointed out that there are regulations in place when it comes to using influencers in the medical industry. Also, it has been proposed that drug businesses should be made responsible for correcting user-generated content that is unverified. Subject matter experts are a blessing in disguise in this regard, as they not only contribute through thought-provoking content, but ensure no unverified or negative information floats around the web regarding their partner business.
Here’s a tweet from an individual who is a subject-matter expert on healthcare. He’s promoting a drug that is used in dentistry, and he’s validating the opinion he’s giving with a strong resource. Subject matter experts know that healthcare/medical companies need a structured approach when it comes to reaching new audiences if they are to gain authority status in particular areas, so they do all they can to create content that hits the sweet spot of people who’re searching for healthcare information.
- Influencer Marketing Is More Important Than Ever For Healthcare
The impact influencers have on the decisions made by consumers can be seen in McKinsey’s research. Social recommendations resulted in 26% of buying on average across 30 different product categories. The healthcare sector should pay special attention to working with influencers as patients are increasingly scheduling appointments and searching for medical services through online channels, where recommendations play a major role in guiding their decisions.
IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics discovered the following:
- 70-75 % people with an internet connection search for details on side effects and medical treatment options on the web.
- 25 % discussed a healthcare issue on the web/
- 42 % educate themselves on healthcare ailments through social media/
- 20 % signed up to be a member of a healthcare forum or online community.
Smart healthcare brands are bringing in influencers to satisfy the information-seeking hunger of these people as well as to broaden a conversation. Healthcare influencers step in to identify issues, create themes, and get more people to contribute to the discussion.
Companies that practice influencer marketing also need to consider the beliefs held by patients/consumers. Depending on the medical/healthcare issue, using influencers to address sensitive subjects can create opportunities or problems, depending on whether you address the issue in a positive or negative manner. It’s important to think how some portion of the issue is addressed and the impact a created conversation will have on your practice/service.
For instance, the WSJ shared the impact a patient influencer named Jeri Burtchell had on clinical trials. She chronicled her whole trial experience in the story, exposing years-old concepts of double-blind researches as not worthy for the hyper-connected reality of patients in the modern era. Patients who read such stories will develop on-demand expectations, which would require medical practitioners to modify their trials and perhaps client servicing practices.
- Picking Influencers for Your Pharma/Medical/Healthcare Brand
You’ll already know about some P2P influencers and subject matter experts. Others, you’ll have to find. Here’s what you need to do identify individuals who can help your business gain traction.
- Use Social Listening Tools
Social listening tools will help you find those hidden gems – experts who are already discussing the medical area you cater or are very relevant. One option is BuzzSumo. This social monitoring tool enables you to enter author name, URL or keyword to discover influencers. After the search, you can see the influence each discovered individual has on social media. Another option is Keyhole, which is a free Twitter tool. It will help you find top influencers for a specific hashtag. These tools, however, work well for finding subject-matter experts. You’d have a hard time discovering P2P/long-tail influencers with these.
- Influencer Marketing Platforms Are Key
Buzzoole and other influencer marketing platforms have their own focus and identity. They leverage data-driven insights to provide a staunch perspective on who is the right P2P influencer for your brand. Platforms like these do the hard work for you, listing healthcare influencers so that you don’t have to send out any private messages or emails. As a result, you get to connect with influencers authentically in just a few steps. The influencer, in return, tell you what they can do best related to your service or product.
- Look within Your Proximity
Engaging within a micro community would allow your healthcare company to identify people who have trust and depth in their communication with audiences. A great way to get people together is to arrange an event, such as a talk on a particular healthcare subject, and invite them into the host location. During the event, you can arrange QA sessions or competitions to see who is apt on the medical area you’re targeting. Also, instead of announcing a winner based on the number of shares he/she brings on social media, you should look at conversions to a particular action, such as the number of visitors a local member of the community brings to your store, and then handpick the winner. That person will play a key role in your influencer marketing campaign.
- Final Thoughts
For healthcare leadership, you need to develop your goodwill when it matters the most, using an influencer to talk about trending and core healthcare issues before patients need them, not after. If you’re not sure about what area to target, ask your existing customers what concerns them the most via personal questions or surveys. Then, use the tips mentioned above to find people who communicate with them in the manner and on channels they prefer.
Fabrizio is the CEO and Founder of Buzzoole. A serial digital entrepreneur, he is visionary, dynamic, a perfectionist, tech passionate, a social media expert and an Influencer Marketing Pioneer. You can get in touch with him at @fabrlzio