Should healthcare brands work with influencers?

What makes an effective pharma or healthcare marketing campaign? Increasingly, it comes down to two words: emotional connection.

As we’ve seen countless times on this blog, consumers and patients are looking for a sense of connection and sincerity in ad campaigns. One way to make that happen is to work with an influencer who has a specific health condition.

In addition to providing a sense of connection, working with an influencer has several other benefits, including:

● fostering a community. Influencers share advice, treatment reviews, and other information with others who suffer from the same condition. They may not be licensed medical professionals (more on that later), but they are looked to as a source of information and support.

This interesting article profiles Damian Washington, an actor and influencer with MS. Washington reviews treatment options and other aspects of living with the condition. He also, in true influencer fashion, promotes a certain lifestyle, which brings us to point number two…

● offering hope. We usually associate influencers with aspirational lifestyle content. As a general rule, this tends to be true. Washington, for instance, may post about things like treatment options for MS, but he will also show himself out in the world enjoying life. This can offer patients a different way to see the condition, giving them hope - and, on a more commercial level, associating those positive feelings with a brand or treatment option.

● providing a direct connection with a target audience. As the article goes on to point out, even though some influencers may not have a huge number of dedicated followers, the people who are following them still represent a significant group of patients dealing with a specific issue, making it easy for pharma companies to find their target audience.

● creating other sponsorship opportunities. Influencers don’t just have to post on social media. Healthcare marketing firm BLOOM Creative advises that brands consider additional ways to work with influencers. Influencers could, for instance:


- speak about a brand at an event or panel

- recruit patients to participate in focus groups and surveys

- endorse a brand or product with a formal testimonial (BLOOM notes that testimonials would have to, of course, comply with local regulations)

On the other hand, working with influencers isn’t all perks, especially in the pharma field. For one thing, most influencers aren’t medical professionals. This means that in order to protect patients and brands alike, influencers must mention that followers should consult their doctor.

Another requirement is that influencers must mention or identify an ad as sponsored content.

These mentions are usually accepted, as long as the post itself seems sincere. But what if an influencer isn’t using the treatment or product they’re sponsoring? In this situation, healthcare advertising experts advise influencers to make a statement like, “While I have not taken this medication myself, many in my patient community are discussing it.”

In addition to the rules on social media platforms, there’s also national or even international legislation around medical information and advertising.

Aaron Brooks, of Vamp, a platform that connects influencers and brands, advises getting to know these laws, which often vary by region or country. It’s important to be familiar with legislating bodies as well.

Briefing influencers is equally important, Brooks adds. When a brand begins working with an influencer, they should tell them about company or brand guidelines, in addition to reminding them of social media and national guidelines.

It’s crucial to share your vision and how you want your brand presented, as well. For instance, there may be certain things a brand doesn’t want an influencer to mention about a treatment, or they may, on the other hand, encourage the influencer to be as raw and honest as possible.

With this in mind, Brooks suggests that brands may want to have a look at the images and text in the influencer’s post before it goes live.

With all of these rules and precautions, is working with an influencer worth it for pharma and healthcare brands? Consider this compelling statistic:

After seeing a post featuring product information on Instagram (the most popular social media platform for influencer advertising), a staggering 87% of users will react in some way, including following a brand, visiting its website, or making a purchase.

Connecting with patients, finding an audience, and creating memorable ads that inspire action: It’s understandable why influencer marketing is one of pharma and healthcare advertising’s biggest trends.




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