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International Key Online Influencer Mapping Process

Key Online Influencer (KOI) and influencer mapping has become an integral part of marketing communication planning in many industries. However, it is particularly important in the pharma and healthcare sectors as often patients, caregivers and HCPs are informing, guiding and educating others within a specific therapeutic area. Here at Convosphere, we have used social listening to help many clients optimise the identification process, researching the digital landscape to identify potential KOIs, analysing their spheres of influence and shortlisting relevant individuals for generating in-depth profiles for driving engagement.

In this post, we look at best practice in identifying and understanding KOIs to better understand current trends in therapeutic areas for increasing patient-centricity and identifying impactful opportunities to engage these KOIs. 

What are Key Online Influencers and why do they matter?

Key Online Influencers are generally individuals or groups of individuals who have expertise and knowledge around a topic and can influence the target audience through their online activities. This may include HCPs, Experts (PhDs, Researchers etc.) or Patient Advocacy Groups (PAGs).

The benefit of engaging KOIs is that they can have a significant impact on raising awareness around a therapeutic area or campaign through their own networks and connections, helping to widen the reach of any content they share or engage with.

The most visible KOIs are the HCPs who are active on social media and have a good follower base. Topic experts, such as Researchers and PhDs, who regularly share research findings and clinical trial results, and help generate awareness, are equally important, followed by Patient Advocacy Groups who raise awareness to help support patients and caregivers. Less visible KOIs are individuals with smaller networks, but who have the potential to engage their followers on specific topics. Therefore, building an understanding of these individuals is key to identify the type of people who will be exposed to your content and how they map to your target audience.

How are Key Online Influencers different from traditional Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)?

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are experts in a specific field of study. They are active at conferences, publish books and articles, participate in interviews and shows, and are part of established institutions. They are thought leaders in their specific field and mostly associated with brands/organisations under influencer engagement programmes.

Key Online Influencers (KOIs) are experts in a specific field, who are also active on one or more key social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. They have an active presence on social media channels, regularly posting and interacting with other users in a professional capacity. They enjoy a significant level of influence in form of followers, fans and subscribers, and have a focus on specific disease areas of interest. There is sometimes an overlap, with some KOLs also meeting the KOI criteria.

What makes a good influencer?

While the choice of who to engage will be partially determined by the therapeutic area of interest, it is generally accepted that influence can be determined through six main factors concerning topic expertise, content relevancy and the number and type of followers.


At Convosphere, we have devised an approach to help effectively assess potential KOIs using a proprietary point-based scoring technique.


Step-by-step Guide to KOI Identifications and Engagement


We first identify the most prolific and influential authors around a therapeutic area or industry. This is done using a blend of automated tools and human-led techniques.


Once we have gathered potential KOIs, we use our in-country industry experts to shortlist and sift through the data. We use our own proprietary point-based scoring technique, which is customised based on business objectives to help rank the most relevant influencers. We also analyse these influencers’ potential audience for increased granularity of targeting. This can be done with our audience insights solution.


We also look in-depth at the kind of content they publish and the areas of their interest to allow us to create a detailed profile. We will also deep dive into their social media networks, analysing the common characteristics of their followers and segmenting their audience, to give a more detailed overview of who would be best to target.


Once the most relevant KOIs have been identified, we start to build detailed profiles. This will contain their market, backgrounds, engagement behaviour, e.g. what content they prefer to share and engage with. This also involves providing recommendations on the best way to approach and engage with them, based on their online profile and interest areas.


A KOI map will group individuals based on online authority, level of influence, focus on the disease area and their overall social media footprint. This mapping exercise clubs influencers into groups based on their characteristics. This helps generate content and activation recommendations based on each group’s characteristics and features. 


Measuring the level of engagement each KOI had and the effectiveness of their participation is key to demonstrating the impact of your KOI engagement programme.

Applying this process to your industry

KOI mapping is an incredibly useful process that can be applied to any industry. For Pharma, it is particularly important as it provides an in-depth understanding of how the target influencers are mapped out based on their authority/focus and social media influence. The mapping will help you to apply specific engagement strategies for KOI falling into different quadrants, as all KOIs are at different levels of social media maturity and relevance to the brand. Below is an example of different mapping quadrants which would help determine the specific KOIs to target and the strategy to use.

  • For technical content and messaging, targeting peer experts, KOIs with high focus/authority would be preferred.
  • On the contrary, if the content is targeted at patients, caregivers including HCPs and Experts, targeting KOIs with high social media engagement/influence would be more beneficial.


Key Online Influencer mapping processA map showing different quadrants with specific characteristics and features of the KOIs. Visually mapping out KOIs allows you to assess opportunities and decide on the next steps to take.

Key Online Influencer engagement strategies

Identifying and utilising Key Online Influencers should be an integral part of any marketing strategy. KOIs are an effective way to build trust among the potential target audiences and help establish the company/brand as thought leaders in their respective domain. KOIs also help the content and messaging reach wider and more relevant target audiences.

The techniques we use here at Convopshere are developed according to our expert understanding of the social media landscapes and cultural nuances. This allows us to filter out any ineffective influencers and compile a list of the KOIs with the potential to maximise your ability to successfully deliver your brand message and amplify your presence.

Below are some engagement strategies that could be explored with KOIs:

Recruitment: KOIs can help recruit patients for clinical trials or other patient engagement programs.

Content creation: KOIs can contribute content to social media channels around key events (Congresses, Disease Awareness Days) and serve as ambassadors, or host other activities on company feeds.

Advisory boards: KOIs can serve as advisory board members on projects, initiatives or content and help provide feedback on programs and concepts.

Co-Creation Initiatives: KOIs could participate in multidisciplinary co-creation around specific challenges and help share findings with external audiences.

Include in Editorial Outreach: KOIs could be partnered with to share press releases and other approved content and provide routine updates to ensure their familiarity with the latest information.

KOI-Focused Educational Content: Create educational content for KOIs to educate, inform and up-skill HCPs to become KOIs.

Listening for Ongoing Insight: Keep an eye on emerging trends, respond and proactively address questions from KOIs and measure the impact of KOIs within the Therapeutic Area and at Congresses.

If you want to discover more about how Key Online Influencer mapping can benefit your business on an international scale, simply get in touch. Alternatively, you can read more about what we do and how social listening can provide marketing insights, by reading the Convosphere blog, today.