14.04.2021 | Health Strategy

Add value to engage effectively with your Digital Opinion Leaders

By Katie Kennedy

female doctor using mobile phone

In this 3-part series, the CREATION.co team have been looking at the role of Digital Opinion Leader (DOLs) within pharmaceutical companies and the changes we see coming. In the first article, we looked at the difference between DOLs and traditional KOLs and the importance of differentiating between the two.

Now, we consider how to identify a Digital Opinion Leader and from there, 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 CREATION.co, 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.

Understand your Digital Opinion Leaders’ digital preferences

For pharma, knowing your Digital Opinion Leaders’ most effective social media channels is critical to success: do they actively write on a blog, solve problems on Reddit, or do they post videos on YouTube? Perhaps they are a health advocate via TikTok or Instagram, and discuss medical issues with peers in a favourite Twitter chat.

Every DOL will have their preferred channel(s) and pharma are best advised to consider partnerships within that media channel to connect into the network and influence that the HCP carries.

As well as understanding the importance of different platforms, it is also key to analyse the DOL’s media preferences. Identifying the content formats that they already produce or engage with can highlight where to focus, as well as feed into your wider content creation.

The most important part of DOL engagement is ensuring that before you approach them, you gather as much knowledge as you can about their preferences and opinions, in order to understand how you can best support them.

Identify where, and how, a Digital Opinion Leader is influential online, and make sure that aligns with your business objectives. If they are not active on the channels that, as a pharma company, you are wishing to gain traction on, then you may need to rethink your channel or the Digital Opinion Leader.

Provide value when engaging Digital Opinion Leaders

In order to build a relationship, you need to provide value. And to provide value, you need to listen and understand your DOLs.

Learn what topics they are passionate about, what channels they are engaging on, what information they are asking for. Having this level of understanding will ensure when you do connect with them, it is in a valuable way that will resonate with them.

HCP DOLs are driving health policy decisions, defining the views of their online peers, and even shaping pharma brands before a product has launched. To leverage opportunities within these areas, pharma must work alongside DOLs and engage with them effectively.

For example, a brand could run a training course specifically for DOLs, to educate them in an area they, or their peers in general, may be expressing a lack of certainty about. This information can then be filtered down to their network of followers via the DOL.

When engaging it is important to always consider the HCP’s perspective. In 2020 at eyeforpharma Philadelphia, Melissa Fellner, Global Marketing Director at AstraZeneca reflected this when she said “It is less about the story that you want to tell and more about understanding your customer and their needs, and how you can provide value to them, in the right way.

For more information on identifying the right Digital Opinion Leaders for your business and understanding how you can add value through your engagement, CREATION.co has an extensive library of DOL resources here, or get in touch with us directly, we’d love to help.

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Meet the Author

Katie Kennedy

Katie has a background working within health organisations and continues to champion the work we do at CREATION.co amongst our current and future clients.

When not at work Katie enjoys being a mother to her two little girls, a dog, a cat, and a tortoise.