Build relationships

Just as with your interactions with traditional Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), it is important to remember that your Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) are also people. Building relationships takes time, this is based on common interests and requires value-add right from the start. Leverage our extensive experience to build strong relationships with your customers, whether they are KOLs or DOLs.

Engage DOLs in a meaningful way

With CREATION Pinpoint®, our powerful online healthcare professional (HCP) conversation insights tool, you can understand the specific interests, goals, behaviours and needs of your influential HCPs, allowing you to engage and support them in a meaningful way and forge strategic partnerships.

Partner in line with your DOLs’ digital preferences

Effectively engaging and connecting with the network and influence that your DOL carries requires a knowledge of their preferred digital channels, the format of content they already produce or engage with, and the type of language they use when discussing their topic of interest this information could be at your fingertips thanks to CREATION Pinpoint®.

Monitor the impact of your DOL engagement

Measuring the impact of any changes in engagement tactics is key to realising your success. We can continue to track the online conversation to close the loop in your HCP customer engagement market research, meaning you can continue to learn and innovate.

Get in touch to find out more about Engaging your DOLs

Frequently asked questions

Digital Opinion Leaders (DOL), are healthcare professionals (HCPs) that have a large online influence within their area of expertise of the pharma industry, normally using social media platforms to share information and advice.

At, we’ve led the way in using data science to identify and profile healthcare professional Digital Opinion Leaders since we first introduced the concept in 2012.

Deciding how to identify, profile and engage DOLs is a process as unique as your own goals. So we work with you to define what’s most important in your particular DOL identification and profiling exercise.

Below is an illustration of 10 of our metrics to identify your DOLs. 

10 ways to identify DOLs

  1. Do they post about relevant content?
  2. Do they have an HCP or public following?
  3. Are they trusted among online HCP peers?
  4. Are they active in the online conversation?
  5. Do they have a public influence?
  6. Do they have a social media presence?
  7. Are they in an existing relationship with you?
  8. Are they engaged in the online scientific community?
  9. Is their online influence local or global?
  10. Do they support other health communities or patient groups?

To learn more visit our Digital Opinion Leader Mapping page

We have been helping pharmaceutical companies with their HCP engagement strategies for the past 20 years. Based on our experience and expertise, here are our top 3 ideas on how to best engage with your HCP Digital Opinion Leaders:

  1. Run a training course specifically for your HCP DOLs to educate them in an area they may be expressing a lack of certainty about. They could then be empowered to share the learnings with their followers.
  2. Provide educational resources published in their preferred format which they would be able to easily digest and repurpose.
  3. Be where your HCP DOL customers are by finding out which congresses they are attending, which sites they are using, and which social media platforms they are on. That way you can focus your outreach to them in the right place.

For the rest of our list, check out our HCP engagement strategies article.

Once you have identified your Digital Opinion Leaders, you need to consider how to engage effectively with them. However, before you start thinking about identifying DOLs, you need to put this into context with your long-term goals and think about what would make a Digital Opinion Leader for you. You need to consider:

  • Do you want someone who is leading the patient or peer community? 
  • Do you want DOLs with a global following or who are more influential locally? 
  • Do you want an opinion leader who is vocal about certain topics? 
  • Does it matter to you the role type they are in or is it just important that they are leading your community? 
  • Do they have the same values as you?

If you start by answering these, and other strategic DOL questions, you will have a much clearer picture of what a perfect DOL would look like for your business. 

Remember, there is no single set of metrics that defines DOL impact. Individual pharma companies should design goals that reflect outcomes aligned with their business objectives. As well as ensuring those objectives also align with the goals of the DOL and, in some cases, the patient community.

At, we spend time ensuring those objectives have been discussed and with a pre-qualified database of nearly 3 million global HCP social media profiles, we can adjust our metrics to ensure the DOLs we identify are the right ones to support your goals.

DOLs suitable for marketing or commercial teams might look different to those suitable for the medical teams. have therefore identified a subset of Digital Opinion Leaders – Digital Scientific Leaders (DSLs). DSLs are HCPs who possess all the qualities of a DOL but have a specific focus and influence in the scientific conversation within the therapy area. 


DSLs are driving the discussion around latest study and trial data, testing and diagnosis, and mechanism of action of treatments. In other words, they have a natural inclination to lead and shape the scientific dialogue amongst their peers online. They usually have higher scientific credentials and use their media for peer learning, education, and collaboration.


To learn more, read our article about Medical Affairs: best practice for identifying online HCP thought leaders

DOLs are already regulated, in the sense that their behaviour as professionals is governed by their respective professional bodies. In the UK, for example, the General Medical Council (GMC), which governs medical doctors, has provided guidance for doctors on their use of social media since 2013. While controversial among some doctors, the guidance forbids doctors from anonymity on social media.

Furthermore, and relevant to the role of DOLs, the GMC guidance requires doctors to declare any commercial or financial interests in pharmaceutical companies: “When you post material online, you should be open about any conflict of interest and declare any financial or commercial interests in healthcare organisations or pharmaceutical and biomedical companies.”


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