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Key Online Influencers: Pharma’s Path to Marketing Success

Patients and healthcare providers are increasingly turning to social media for product advice. How can pharma harness this opportunity by forming partnerships with Key Online Influencers?

Social media platforms are shaping our way of life – and this is increasingly being reflected in the way consumers search for products. At the start of the internet era, search engines were popular; now, however, it is estimated that at least 75% of the population turns to social networks to look for product information before making purchase decisions.

Any marketer that is top of their game is turning the social media surge to their advantage – by bringing Key Online Influencers (KOIs) on board.

What are KOIs and how are they different from Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)?

KOIs are thought leaders who command the attention of a large online audience in the form of followers or subscribers. Unlike KOLs, who are healthcare professionals (HCPs) who reach out to their peers, KOIs are not restricted to HCPs, but can also encompass patient advocacy groups (PAGs), celebrities, patients and caregivers. The one thing KOIs have in common is their technical savviness, which has helped establish their visible online presence and influence.

Collaboration with KOIs has the potential to amplify brand reach, improve disease awareness, and build brand trust and loyalty. KOI-led marketing has demonstrated dramatically increased returns on investment in other industrial sectors, revealing an opportunity for pharma and the life sciences.

How can pharma collaborate and learn from KOIs?

While pharma understands the need for KOIs in today’s increasingly competitive environment, some companies may struggle to develop an effective strategy for KOI collaboration. We recommend a five-step strategy for successful collaboration with KOIs:

    1. Identify: Find people who have been talking about your therapeutic area or product online. 
    2. Shortlist: Select promising KOIs based on their expertise, disease focus, and impact on different audiences. 
    3. Analyse: Establish whether the selected KOIs fit the needs of your brand, your target audience, and your company values and vision. 
    4. Profile: Extensively review each KOI’s background and social media footprint.
    5. Map: Visualise how potential KOIs would perform in different marketing campaigns.
Five steps to optimise pharma-KOI collaboration
Convosphere’s five-step strategy for successful KOI collaboration.

Identifying and engaging with KOIs are just the tip of the iceberg for pharma. For successful and compliant social media marketing, pharma needs to establish an ongoing collaborative relationship with their KOIs and learn from them. Some tips for achieving this long-term partnership include:

  • Co-create content: Using social media trends and data can help pharma work alongside KOIs to create relevant content both parties – and their audience – are happy with.
  • Develop shared value propositions: A KOI who is incentivised will be more inclined to be loyal to your brand. Opportunities to upskill is an incentive many KOIs value.
  • Measure success periodically: While validated performance metrics must be evaluated periodically, seasonal return on investment measures are the best indicators of success.

Learn more in our new whitepaper ‘The Rise of Key Online Influencers – And Why They Matter to Pharma’

To learn more about how pharma can leverage social media marketing through KOIs, read our whitepaper, which describes how to effectively identify and engage with KOIs for optimal pharma-KOI success.   

Key topics discussed in the whitepaper include:

  • The difference between KOIs and KOLs
  • Types of KOIs
  • How pharma can benefit from engaging with KOIs
  • Developing a successful strategy for KOI engagement and long-term collaboration
  • Measuring the success of pharma-KOI partnerships
  • Overcoming the challenges of pharma-KOI partnerships
  • What pharma can learn from KOIs

Our global insights team conducts social listening in over 70 languages to answer our clients’ most important business questions with actionable insights that deliver impact.

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