Identifying & Engaging Key Online Influencers in Healthcare
We are online addicts. We spend more time online than offline. We buy goods and service online; we connect with our friends in the digital space; we work virtually; we identify new business connections online; we engage with sales and service rep via online bot technology and most people find their spouse online, etc. And of specific relevance to the topic at hand: We form our opinions through the content we find online in social media, via apps and websites. Key Online Influencers (KOIs) publish and distribute the most visible and influential content in the digital ecosystem. Consequently, companies and brands want KOIs to be favorable to and advocate their point of view. How do you identify the most relevant KOIs and how do you engage these most efficiently?
How to map & score Key Online Influencers
Which KOIs a Healthcare company engages with in an influencer program inevitably has profound implications on the ability to reach the underlying commercial objectives. Vertic has developed a influencer discovery and evaluation framework to create a shortlist of candidates to consider for a influencer program and hone in on the best suitable participants.
The following criteria is typically applied to identify the most appropriate KOIs within a given area:
- Influence Metrics. Industry Standard 3x R (Reach, Resonance, Relevance) for overall evaluation of influence
- Audience Quality. Classification of who is in their following based on activity and bio descriptions
- Content Creation. Analysis of how much original content they create and to what extent it resonates with the target audience
Process of Key Online Influencer Engagement
Another key activity is to align the business goals of the company with the Following, opinions and interests of the different identified influencers. On this basis, the company can select which KOIs to reach out to. For those influencers that are open to collaboration, the relationship building is initiated. When the relationship has been cemented, the Healthcare company and the set of KOIs can collaborate on engaging the online community including patients, HCPs, caregivers, payers, etc.
For a case example from Eli Lilly, read more.
How can a Healthcare company add value to KOIs?
The Healthcare company needs to add value to the KOIs in order to establish a genuine relationship. But how?
KOLs have the expertise in their area of interest, but they would benefit vastly from more and better connections to others in the community of the given therapeutic area and beyond. But how can healthcare company be credible and useful to KOIs without pushing a specific agenda?
The Healthcare company must own the idea of creating better connections between KOIs and to a broader group of stakeholders, the public, and service providers.
As a connector and matchmaker with 3rd parties, the Healthcare company can add value as a positive and neutral facilitator while still collaborating on informing he discussions happening on social media. What does better connections mean for KOIs?:
- Connect with people who can inspire & provide something new/ interesting to talk about
- Connect with experts who can help make sense of complex medical and patient issues
- Connect with people who can help with creative expression
- Connect better with the community to leverage shared experience
- Connect beyond the stakeholder group: breaking silos between stakeholders
A common thread through influencer concepts
In order to maximize the value of the influencer program, the Healthcare company needs to follow the following thread:
1. Bring together the right people
We can provide value to KOIs by helping to bring them together with similar or complementary experts, stakeholders, and communicators.
It might be a senior HCP KOL mentoring some patient KOIs or a diverse group of KOI stakeholders working together to produce content.
2. Suggest topics to focus on & educate
We provide themes to create (or co-create) content around so that we can control the direction.
We also select KOIs carefully based on their interests (using the dashboard), so we know they will have focus around desired themes.
In addition, we work to help the KOIs understand the source content they are working with
3. Co-create, and document the process
Unlike in TV or print, in social media, the community of creators and the process of content creation are important and visible. This gives us an opportunity to use the documentation of the co-creation to produce engaging content before the release of the end-product.
4. Capture the output and promote it.
The ultimate output should take the form of as many pieces of content as possible — from hero videos and recorded video Q&A sessions to simple infographics and posts.
It is a relationship, not a business transaction
Relationships are founded on reciprocity, fair and reliable exchange of value over time. Ultimately, and in the long run, both parties gain each other’s trust. The hallmark of trust is that you add value into the relationship without measuring the immediate return, but rather understand and appreciate the longevity of the connection and mutually rewarding nature. At this point, you have earned, what we at Vertic call, Share of Life™. It is long term game, and certainly a game that extends beyond this financial quarter.
For a case example, read how Eli Lilly worked with KOLs and KOIs in the context of entering a new Therapeutic Area.