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The rise of HCP influencers in healthcare marketing


What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing has been rising across almost every industry, and in the past few years, it’s made its way into the world of healthcare. Essentially, influencer marketing is partnering with social media influencers or Digital Opinion Leaders to educate an audience in order to build trust, to promote a brand’s products or services, and to attract new customers—or patients in the case of healthcare. 

Influencers do not have to have millions of followers to be effective at this type of marketing. There are nano-influencers who may have only a few thousand followers, but those followers are typically more engaged making the influencer’s reach narrower, but deeper. Influencer marketing works with nano-influencers, micro-influencers and macro-influencers alike depending on the goals and size of the business.

Healthcare providers emerging as influencers

During the pandemic, healthcare providers took to social media to bring information to the masses, and it became a crucial way of connecting patients with providers and other industry players like pharmaceutical and biotech companies. This trend is continuing into the future even beyond pandemic-related issues because of the unique power healthcare influencers have to shape the perception of their followers. They can reach a broader audience and attract new patients while promoting healthy lifestyles and proper treatments, answering questions, dispelling popularly held beliefs, and debunking myths. 

Influencer marketing helps to create a more genuine connection and an “unfiltered” perspective that people are looking for today, especially when making decisions about their health.

Partnering with trustworthy influencers

Healthcare providers from dermatologists to cardiologists are posting online, educating, and sharing experiences from the front lines as subject matter experts, and these providers have a noticeable influence on their audience’s opinions and behaviors. For example, in a 2019 WEGO health survey, Patient Influencer Perspectives on Social Media, 93% of consumers said that influencers drove them to ask their physicians about health information that was shared through social media. 87% of people noted they would discuss treatments they heard about from trusted influencers.

Partnering with influencers allows healthcare companies to successfully convey important information about their products and treatments to their audience in a way that is likely to be well received as it’s coming from providers with a high level of validity and expertise who are sharing their personal experiences and stories. They can uniquely foster an online community that serves as a place to share information, answer questions, and offer support and knowledge about treatments or medications to people in the comfort of their own homes. When companies market in this way, the audience is invited into conversations about health, and they ultimately become more knowledgeable and engaged.

How pharmaceutical and biotech companies can benefit from influencer marketing 

Create More Engaged Patients

When done right, influencer marketing encourages people to become equal partners in their healthcare journey. With so much information available to patients online, it can help cut through the noise with qualified providers as spokespeople helping patients make informed decisions about their health. Influencers can help raise awareness and engagement at any part of the care process from diagnosis to treatment as well as best practices for preventative care. When patients are more engaged with their own health journey it can lead to better overall patient outcomes. 

Build the Relationship with the Patient

Using HCP influencers helps bridge the gap between the cold, clinical perception of pharma and biotech companies to more personal, relationship-based healthcare. Customer relationships are built on trust, and the majority of consumers trust influencer marketing over branded marketing which can be perceived as biased. 

Audiences today are looking for more authentic information that other marketing types, such as paid marketing, fail to deliver because of their naturally biased nature. Influencer marketing can also help companies better understand their audience through more genuine engagement such as comments, likes, shares, and real-life responses to information influencers are sharing. It creates a two-way conversation rather than less dynamic, one-way advertising. This shifts the focus externally to patients and solving patient problems.

Provide Better Access

Influencer marketing allows pharmaceutical and biotech companies to reach people who don’t have good access to healthcare and health information–like those in more rural areas who have to travel long distances to engage with healthcare providers. Healthcare companies can use social platforms to provide education around topics like preventative care or new treatments and medications. Meeting people on their social channels is direct and simple, and it provides an avenue to foster trust with new audiences.

Ultimately, influencer marketing provides a way to connect with, educate, and build trust with patients by utilizing the expertise of healthcare providers to promote health solutions. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies can use this type of marketing to better understand and better educate their audience and drive positive company and patient results.