How many of your Key Opinion Leaders are also Digital Opinion Leaders?

By Katie Kennedy

How many of your Key Opinion Leaders are also Digital Opinion Leaders?

For many Pharma brands there is a new research need to understand more about the digital footprint of key opinion leaders in pharma. A common question we are asked by brand or product managers is,  “are my KOLs online and if so what are they saying?”

What is the digital presence of key opinion leaders in the pharmaceutical industry?

In some studies we have seen around 50% of a client’s Key Opinion Leaders in pharma have some form of digital presence. Generally, the demographic of a KOL may be that of an older doctor who is not as accustomed to digital channels as their younger colleagues. A recent Creation Pinpoint study discovered that, of the 50% client KOLs with a digital presence, the majority were using LinkedIn as their primary digital engagement channel. This insight enabled the company to consider the possibility of reaching and engaging with their KOLs via a private LinkedIn group.

Mapping out your KOLs’ digital footprint gives you intelligence into which online channels they are using and what they are discussing about your brand or therapy area.

Pharma companies are also starting to realise the potential of assisting their KOLs to get online. In Spain for example, Sanofi took a highly proactive approach by positioning themselves as an ally to doctors who may be hoping to develop professionally through the use of digital channels.  Sanofi Campus is a free training programme for healthcare professionals who want to take full advantage of the Internet, social networks and other digital tools.

Another great example of Pharma going one step further to help their KOLs embrace social media and reach digital opinion leader status is Boehringer Ingelheim. They worked closely with one of their KOLs – supporting him online for the first time at the #COPDChat Twitter chat which they hosted, during the European Respiratory Society Congress.

Boehringer Ingelheim helped a KOL in COPD become a DOL using Twitter.

Boehringer Ingelheim helped a KOL in COPD become a DOL using Twitter.

How to identify digital opinion leaders in pharma

When the Creation Pinpoint analyst team have reviewed your current KOLs’ online presence, the next question our clients tend to ask is, “Which other healthcare professionals are seen as key opinion leaders online?”

Mapping out your digital opinion leaders (DOLs) provides another new and exciting intelligence resource. DOLs may not necessarily be the traditional ‘type’ that your company would typically see as an opinion leader. They might be younger, or less published or in a different type of role altogether. However, if they are seen as an influential leader among their peers online in your therapy area, it may be just as important for you to create the right strategy to engage with them, as it would be to engage with your traditional KOLs.

One project we worked on identified a high amount of therapy area conversation taking place in blogs.  However, the client’s KOLs were not especially present in the space and consequently their valuable insight was missing from this conversation. Through a workshop we helped put together a strategy that partnered their KOLs with the newly identified DOLs. The DOLs brought their digital knowledge and the KOLs brought their professional experience to the collaboration.

If you are working in Pharma and want to know more about how insights from healthcare professional conversation on social media can transform your brand strategy then register for our free presentation.

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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.