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Influencer Marketing for Pharmaceuticals: Reaching Your Target Audience

Influencer Marketing for Pharmaceuticals: We described it in our recent post, “Influencer Marketing for Pharmaceuticals: Effective Patient Influencers.” In that post, we also shared some attributes to look for in an effective Patient Influencer. Now, let’s discuss identification of the target audience and the methods used to reach that audience.


Who Is Your Target Audience?

When it comes to influencer marketing for pharmaceuticals, you want to reach the audience that most closely matches up with the focus of your marketing campaign. Is your focus Ulcerative Colitis (UC)? Your primary goal will then be to reach out to patients or caregivers within the UC community. Or, maybe your marketing campaign is focused on pediatric vaccines. You want to ensure that you are reaching out to the appropriate audience for that as well, which would be in the area of parenting and family health.

As listed in Why You Need to Define Your Target Audience to Create Great Marketing, three points to consider when identifying your target audience are:

  • Who you think of while creating content
  • Who you most want to see your content
  • Who you think will respond best to your content

Patient Influencers will typically have a community of followers focused on a specific condition or therapeutic area, or maybe they are even taking a particular medication. Some are even primarily within a certain age-based demographic such as Baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, or Millennials.

If you are marketing for pharmaceuticals, then a Patient Influencer’s community would be a great target to consider. In a way, one could say that with influencer marketing, your target audience comes pre-packaged for you. And, because these community members probably sought out the Influencer, the chances are good that they would also take a proactive approach toward acting on the content that is provided to them.

An article recently posted by Mediakix.com reports that:

“Influencers on social media enable brands to target specific demographics. Because influencers often have a relatively specific type of content, their audiences may be a bit more clearly defined than the audience of network television shows and major studio films. Through influencers, brands can speak to specific target demos with tailored messages.”


Consider Your ROI

Influencer marketing for pharmaceuticals can be very cost effective as well. In an article posted on Adweek.com in October 2016 entitled 9 Ways to Measure and Receive ROI from Influencer Marketing, they shared the following: “A study last year reported that that the average influencer marketing campaign received $6.85 in earned media value for every dollar spent on paid media – an impressive number indeed.”

This is quite significant, but earned media value doesn’t provide the entire picture. The article goes on to say that, “unlike out of home, TV or display, influencer marketing resonates with consumers in a more authentic way while also giving much higher visibility into the success of the campaign.” Whenever a message resonates with someone, the odds of them either returning for more of the same or taking action are increased.


Patient Influencer as Partner

Working with a Patient Influencer whose community is so focused can be almost as if you are reaching out to each community member directly. The Patient Influencer is speaking, on your behalf, to people who highly value and trust their opinion.

According to an article by Katie Carlson for Experticity;

“The reason influencer marketing works is because it’s built upon authentic relationships between the consumer and influencers. There’s mutual trust and passion behind what they’re communicating and sharing. It’s cost effective and easy to measure and prove ROI. If you’re hesitant to give it a try, just remember that according to social media analytics firm Simply Measured, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from personal connections, while only 33% trust ads.”


Your Target Audience ⇒ Patient Communities

When considering influencer marketing for pharmaceuticals within a very specified or niche area of the patient population, partnering with a Patient Influencer who is connected to individuals within that condition area can be incredibly valuable.

Let’s take, for instance, acromegaly. How do you find patients or caregivers who are in that space? One way is to partner with a Patient Influencer who is highly-regarded by people in the acromegaly community. They then reach out to their community members on your behalf. Oftentimes, the connection that a Patient Influencer has with their community members can be very strong because they provide a level of empathy, together with needed information. In many instances, influencer marketing will get you to your target audience more quickly, simply by virtue of the connections they have.

Take this quote from an article on www.mmm-online.com, entitled Patient Engagement: All Grown Up—Patient Engagement Comes of Age:

“Nearly two-thirds of US consumers are leveraging social media for their health,” says Rory Stanton, an analyst at Manhattan Research. “Over one-third of them are influenced by the other patients they’ve interacted with online. And we know patients are interested in hearing from pharmaceutical companies via patient activists on social media.”

This is very telling, indeed, of the way that patients are influenced when it comes to their healthcare. Of course, there will always be exceptions, but many people will follow – and be influenced by – someone with whom they have a connection or who provides information and interaction that is relevant to them and their needs.


How Do They Do It?

Now that we’ve discussed the types of audiences that your campaign might be targeting, let’s delve into how the effective Patient Influencer ultimately reaches them. Simply put, how do they do what they do?

There are two main ways: multi-channel presence and engagement through discussion.


Multi-Channel Presence

Patient Influencers are often active on multiple social media channels. Channels on which they may have an involvement include YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, to name a few. Additionally, some Influencers have their own blogs and/or are guest authors for articles posted on company- or organization-specific websites.

In 2016, Linqia fielded a study of 170 marketers on the topic of influencer marketing. The chart below, taken from that study, shows the social media platforms that are most important to the study participants’ influencer marketing strategies.

Influencer marketing broken down by social media platforms – image source

When looking for a Patient Influencer with whom you can have a successful partnership, you want to find one who has an active presence on the social media channels that are popular with a broad audience of potential followers.

In addition to having a presence on varied social media channels, some Patient Influencers also travel, either domestically or internationally, to speak at conferences or otherwise advocate for their cause and for the patients on whose behalf they are speaking. All of this provides them with an opportunity to either engage with patients directly or to collect information that they can take back to educate their community members.

Basically, an active Patient Influencer is an engaged Patient Influencer. And, an engaged Patient Influencer is an effective Patient Influencer when utilizing influencer marketing for pharmaceuticals. So, look for a heightened activity level and you will find a Patient Influencer who will undoubtedly also be effective as a partner in your marketing campaign.


Engagement Through Discussion

Effective Patient Influencers will engage with their community members through discussion, whether in public forums or closed groups, or through comment streams on their blogs. Regular interaction such as this gives Patient Influencers an understanding of the needs of their community members. They know more about what resonates with them and how best to really reach them.

Through engagement with their community members, and because of the trust that has been built over time, Patient Influencers earn the confidence of their followers. This relationship built on trust is invaluable to a marketer who seeks to get their message out to members of the Patient Influencer’s community.

Rather than relying on their healthcare providers, people are increasingly turning to the internet for health-related information and support. As mentioned in the article, 3 Reasons Why Pharma Should Utilize Influencer Marketing:

“Pharma brands need to go where these activities are happening – online. One way to join this conversation is by working with influencers and getting to the heart of where patients go to seek medical advice and diagnosis. People who are currently dealing with a health issue (or have in the past) would be a credible source for those looking for help and support when dealing with the same health issues. Strong relationships can form in these online communities as people begin to trust each other and lean on one another as a support system.”

Patients today are much more informed and ultimately will often take a more empowered approach to their healthcare. They proactively search the internet for information and value the opinions of fellow patients – often over the opinions of healthcare professionals or companies within the healthcare industry. They join online communities, they post on forums, they belong to various Facebook groups, and they Tweet about their experiences.


So Basically, It Boils Down to This:

Once you’ve determined the focus of your campaign, you will want to:

  • Identify your target audience. The more detailed you can be, the better!
  • Seek out a Patient Influencer. Check out social media channels for Patient Influencers who focus on the condition area you’re targeting. You can also do a search online for “[condition] patient influencers.” Just make sure that you work with someone who is active and engaged with their community members!

While it’s still relatively new as a campaign strategy, influencer marketing for pharmaceuticals is here and it’s real. And, with the right partnership, you will find that it can be rewarding for all involved.


From volunteering with a foundation that provides funds for cancer research, to working in a doctor’s office, to working for many years in pharma, and now with WEGO Health, Sue has spent the better part of her adult life in an industry for which she has a passion. As Insights Manager with WEGO Health, Sue connects with our network of Patient Leaders to bring the voice of the patient to our partners in the healthcare industry. When she’s not working (alongside her trusty feline sidekick, Santana), Sue enjoys reading, writing, photography, doing home improvement DIY projects, and getting on the mic at the occasional Karaoke outing.


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