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Sertac Doganay, M.D.
, Founder at Social Touch [Social Media and Digital Marketing Agency - Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals]
Marketing Türkiye & IP Magazine
Sep 20, 2012
Health & Medicine
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Activating Digital KOL's e-book
1. Activating Digital Opinion LeadersHow the Internet, Social Media and Mobile Channelsare Changing the Key Opinion Leader andAdvocate EnvironmentA guide for pharmaceutical communicators and marketersDaniel Ghinn Edition 1.0
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersContentsActivating Digital Opinion Leaders .......................................................... 1 Introduction ........................................................................................ 3 The New Healthcare Engagement Environment ................................. 4 The influential patient blogger ........................................................ 6 Patient social networks ................................................................... 7 New digital healthcare providers .................................................... 7 Doctors’ social networks ................................................................. 8 User-generated medical information .............................................. 8 Mainstream digital channels as health information portals ............ 9 Healthcare Professionals in the Digital Era ........................................ 10 Healthcare professionals’ social networks .................................... 11 Dedicated digital tools & resources for healthcare professionals . 12 Mainstream digital channels ......................................................... 13 Defining Digital Opinion Leaders ....................................................... 16 Patient Blogger, Kelly Young .......................................................... 17 Patient Advocacy Group, National Multiple Sclerosis Society ....... 18 Patient Activist, Christine O’Connell .............................................. 19 Social Media Doctor, Anne Marie Cunningham ............................. 20 Activating Digital Opinion Leaders .................................................... 22 1. Identify Digital Opinion Leaders ................................................ 23 2. Engage Digital Opinion Leaders ................................................. 24 3. Activate Digital Opinion Leaders................................................ 26 What next? .................................................................................... 28© 2012 Creation Healthcare 2
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersIntroductionEarlier this month I presented a session at KOL & MSL Best Practiceconference in Basel, Switzerland. The conference focused onpharmaceutical companies’ work with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) andthe role of Medical Science Liaisons, and I had been invited to speak onhow new channels like the Internet, social media and mobile arechanging the KOL environment.In my session I introduced the concept of ‘Digital Opinion Leaders’ forpharmaceutical companies, arguing that in today’s digital environmentthere are two key concepts that affect the potential role of opinionleaders: 1. In the digital world, a pharmaceutical company’s stakeholders are influenced by a surprising range of individuals who might not previously have been considered ‘Opinion Leaders’ 2. In identifying those healthcare professionals who influence their peers, the role of digital engagement is an increasingly important aspect of their influenceThese concepts should not yet detract from ‘traditional’ KOL activity butprovide an added dimension to pharmaceutical companies’ engagementplanning.I presented Creation Healthcare’s method of activating Digital OpinionLeaders in three steps: Identify Engage Activate. At first glance,this looks much like the model used in traditional KOL activity. Thedifference in the digital world, I illustrated, is that each of these stepsrequires a paradigm shift in order to be effective.This e-book has been written based upon what I presented in Basel, andincludes more in-depth discussion and recommendations for those inpharmaceutical companies who wish to activate advocates in thedigital era.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 3
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersThe New Healthcare Engagement EnvironmentThe new healthcare engagement environment ischaracterised by a web of two-way engagementbetween different stakeholdersIn many ways, communication between health stakeholders has beentransformed by today’s digital era. I use the term ‘healthcareengagement’ to refer to two-way communication betweenstakeholders, and it is this area in particular that has been affected bynew digital channels.Fifteen years ago, the concept of healthcare engagement might havereferred to a fairly linear set of two-way relationships such as thedialogue that took place between a patient and their doctor; betweenindividual doctors; or between a pharmaceutical representative and a© 2012 Creation Healthcare 4
Activating Digital Opinion Leadershealthcare professional. Today, the rise of digital channels has led to adisruption in traditional lines of communication between healthcarestakeholders. Examples of changes in healthcare engagement broughtabout by digital channels include: Healthcare professionals discuss diagnosis of cases and clinical practice in open and closed forums to seek the advice of peers Patients based all around the world share their experiences of living with disease Wikipedia, a website edited by anybody, is used by both healthcare professionals and patients as a trusted resource on medicines Pharmaceutical reps from different companies compare notes in social forum cafepharma.comNew digital channels of communication have introduced numerous newconcepts in healthcare engagement. The empowered ‘e-patient’ hasalready been widely discussed, so here I will explore some of the othernew concepts in digital healthcare: The influential patient blogger Patient social networks New digital healthcare providers Doctors’ social networks User-generated medical information Mainstream digital channels as health information portals© 2012 Creation Healthcare 5
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersNew concepts in healthcare engagement arecreated by both mainstream and healthcare-specific implementations of digital channelsThe influential patient bloggerSome individual patients living with a chronic disease have becomehighly active influencers online - and even offline, too. Kelly Young,whose blog, RAWarrior, about life with Rheumatoid Arthritis hasbecome a hub of resources on the disease, is just one example of a largeand growing community influencing hundreds of thousands of otherpeople. Kelly’s online influence through RAWarrior includes her ArthritisWarrior Facebook page followed by almost 16,000; over 40,000 viewson her YouTube channel; and her Twitter profile with almost 5,000followers through which she leads a weekly Twitter chat.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 6
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersIn my book, Pathways to Engagement for Healthcare Organizations, Iwrite about Roche Diagnostics’ initiative with a community of patientbloggers focused on diabetes. The company recognized the influentialrole of the online patient community and deliberately set out to engagethem. Some of the lessons that Roche have learned through thisinitiative are highlighted in my interview with Roche’s Rob Müller onpatient engagement.Patient social networksPatientsLikeMe is a social network of patients connected by theirexperiences with disease. The community includes over 1,000 diseasesand operates as a tool where patients compare notes on conditions,symptoms and treatments.When I interviewed Ben Heywood, PatientLikeMe’s co-founder in our2010 Healthcare Engagement Strategy Awards, he told me then that21% of patients responding to a survey had indicated that they hadchanged their physician as a result of being part of the network. Twoyears ago, 10% of all US patients diagnosed with MS went on to joinPatientsLikeMe. Since then, the network has grown from 50,000 to over150,000 members.Other kinds of patient social networks include those dedicated to asingle disease area, such as TuDiabetes, which connects over 40,000people affected by diabetes over two websites in English and Spanishlanguages. Manny Hernandez, founder of TuDiabetes and the DiabetesHands Foundation, told me that the two different language networkswere created to accommodate not only the language needs but toensure cultural relevance across the international community of peopleaffected by diabetes.New digital healthcare providersOne of the most interesting new concepts in the digital age is the role ofnew and sometimes surprising digital healthcare providers. LiveNurse is© 2012 Creation Healthcare 7
Activating Digital Opinion Leadersa smartphone app that gives customers of US mobile services providerGreatCall direct access to a registered nurse for advice 24/7, togetherwith a medical library and symptom checker tool. The mobile providerhas in a sense become the primary gateway to healthcare for customersof its service.Other disruptions to the traditional healthcare provider model includeMediAngels, which describes itself as a ‘Global eHospital’ and theworld’s first online hospital, where patients anywhere in the world cangain a second opinion from one of 300 medical specialists and pay forthis online.Doctors’ social networksDigital platforms where healthcare professionals share ideas rangingfrom clinical practice and drug information to out-of-hours pastimesinclude strictly closed, single-country networks as well as more inclusiveand international environments. What they share is the concept ofconnecting like-minded professionals together.The list of major doctors’ networks is extensive and diverse. In the US,Sermo describes itself as the largest online community, exclusive tophysicians and has over 125,000 members. In Europe, numerousdoctors’ social networks include the UK’s doctors.net.uk, with over190,000 UK doctors registered. The world’s largest network forhealthcare professionals is china’s DXY, with over two million members.I will explore further the activity of doctors in these social networkslater, under ‘Healthcare Professionals in the Digital Era’.User-generated medical informationAt a conference in Dubai, where I was speaking about mobile apps forhealthcare, a doctor commented that he saw little point in spendingtime with pharma reps since he can learn much more about a drug bysearching for it on Wikpedia. User-generated medical information found© 2012 Creation Healthcare 8
Activating Digital Opinion Leadersonline in blogs and wikis - digital encyclopedias covering everyconceivable topic, which can be edited by anybody - is influencing notonly consumers but professionals too.Wikipedia is arguably the most trusted user-generated wiki source.Search Google for any drug name or disease, and it is likely that therelevant Wikipedia page on the topic will be returned at or near the topof Google’s natural search results. Editors of a typical medicalinformation page range from medical professionals to students, patientsand other stakeholders.Mainstream digital channels as health information portalsDespite the growing number of dedicated health websites, and socialnetworks for patients and doctors, the most popular online channels forhealthcare engagement are of course mainstream channels used forsearch and social media. In most of the world, Google is the primarytool used to search for information about healthcare, disease or drugsnot only by patients but by healthcare professionals too. Mainstreamsocial media channels including Facebook and Twitter are digitalchannels of choice for many consumers to share their healthexperiences, and even for healthcare professionals to discuss clinicalpractice.For a pharmaceutical marketer, activating Digital Opinion Leadersrequires a familiarity with each of these new concepts of healthcareengagement. But for anybody with an interest in engaging Key OpinionLeaders in today’s digital era, further consideration of the onlinebehaviour of healthcare professionals is essential. I will explore this inthe next section.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 9
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersHealthcare Professionals in the Digital EraHealthcare professionals are using a range ofdedicated digital tools as well as mainstreamonline channelsTo plan how to engage and activate healthcare professionals online, it isworthwhile considering the kinds of digital channels being used byhealthcare professionals and the role that each channel plays. We mightbroadly categorise these channels into three groups: Healthcare professionals’ social networks Dedicated digital tools and resources for healthcare professionals Mainstream digital channels© 2012 Creation Healthcare 10
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersHealthcare professionals’ social networksI have already mentioned the breadth of social networks for healthcareprofessionals, which range from country-specific, validated closednetworks to international and more open networks. While some arerestricted to registered doctors, others are open to a wider range ofhealthcare stakeholders.Among the more open and international doctors’ networks is doc2doc,hosted by the UK’s BMJ Group, which includes doctors’ forums, blogsand social networking features including the opportunity for doctors tocreate a personal profile page, ‘friend’ and recommend others, andcomment on each other’s posts. The network includes a public areawhich may be accessed by anybody, and a closed area intended forclinical discussions and restricted only to medical professionals.Even in doc2doc’s open forums, healthcare professionals discuss thetreatment of patients and medicines. A recent extensive discussionbetween users of the social network starts with a specialist fromNinewells Hospital in Dundee asking fellow members for help solving aparticular patient case. “This weekend I found a very interesting patient,with an interesting constellation of symptoms, signs, and results”, heposts. “…I think I have at least one diagnosis, but I can’t explaineverything. I thought I might tap into the collaborative knowledge ofD2D [doc2doc] to try to get more answers… And it’s a fun game”, heobserves, before describing symptoms and starting a discussion whichincludes questions and answers from doc2doc’s international networkof doctors.Another recent example of content discussed between healthcareprofessionals on doc2doc is a post by one user about the FDA approvalof Astellas’ drug Mirabegron, outlining the drug’s use in the treatmentof overactive bladder, its clinical trials and side effects. This post is© 2012 Creation Healthcare 11
Activating Digital Opinion Leadersfollowed by extensive discussion between healthcare professionalsabout the use and safety of the drug.The visibility of content inside healthcare professionals’ networks variesgreatly, from networks such as doc2doc, or DocCheck, which includesome public areas of content, to completely closed networks such asdoctors.net.uk where all discussion takes place behind securelyauthenticated areas. Many of these networks also offer tools forresearching the behaviour of their users and for engaging healthcareprofessionals directly.Dedicated digital tools & resources for healthcare professionalsA vast and ever-growing range of digital tools for healthcareprofessionals has developed in recent years, from tools accessed via aweb browser to mobile apps installed on smartphones.Examples of these include diagnosis tools, such Nycomed-sponsoredDoctot Chest, a suite of clinician-administered assessment scales andlookup tables related to COPD patients. Doctot Chest is one of a rangeof pharma-sponsored apps for iPhone developed by Doctot whichinclude tools to evaluate stroke patients, sponsored by BoehringerIngelheim, and to diagnose dementia, supported by Lundbeck.Other dedicated tools for healthcare professionals supported bypharmaceutical companies include specialist resources focused on aparticular area such as Astellas’ Transplant360, which includes clinicaltools designed to help healthcare professionals to support patients aftertransplantation, as well as resources supporting congresses and events.Traditional journals read by healthcare professionals are also behindnew digital tools. The Oncologist, the journal of the Society forTranslational Oncology, which also operates an online community,provides its journal as a rich app for iPad, iPhone, Android, and KindleFire devices.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 12
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersDedicated digital tools for healthcareprofessionals include video lectures on TheOncologist appWhilst the mobile app version of The Oncologist includes all the contentof the print edition, making it available wherever and whenever ahealthcare professional wishes to read it, its real power lies in theinclusion of rich media content such as video. Full length lectures fromspecialists are among the resources available to view and hear via TheOncologist app.Mainstream digital channelsWe have already considered the role of mainstream digital channelssuch as Google or Facebook as health information portals, and of courseit is no surprise to discover that healthcare professionals’ use of digitalchannels is not restricted to dedicated platforms for doctors. We know© 2012 Creation Healthcare 13
Activating Digital Opinion Leadersthat doctors use Wikipedia, Google, and social media channels in bothprofessional and personal contexts.Take the example of Dr Mehmet Oz, US-based cardiac surgeon with anaward-winning television show about health. Dr Oz has a large followingon social media, with almost two million Twitter followers. Yet thisparticular channel appears to be little more than a broadcast medium,with little two-way engagement and virtually no following of otherusers.US TV doctor Dr Oz has almost 2 million Twitterfollowers, but little digital engagement with themMore interesting from a healthcare engagement perspective is KevinPho, MD, whose public Twitter profile includes almost 55,000 followersand is far more engaging. Kevin Pho’s digital activity includes an activeblog where he discusses health, drugs and the role of digital channels in© 2012 Creation Healthcare 14
Activating Digital Opinion Leadershealthcare. The blog is actively shared by other Internet users and hasalmost 87,000 subscribers to its RSS feed (a tool for reading blogupdates) and 40,000 subscribers to a weekly email update, while KevinPho’s Facebook page is ‘liked’ by around 14,000 people.And it is not only in the US that healthcare professionals are usingmainstream digital channels to engage others. As we will see in our nextsection on Defining Digital Opinion Leaders, doctors in Europe are alsoengaging with each other using public social media platforms.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 15
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersDefining Digital Opinion LeadersPatient bloggers like Kelly Young, who writesabout life with Rheumatoid Arthritis, are amonga growing number of categories of DigitalOpinion LeadersIn the context of the new healthcare engagement environment andhaving considered the role of healthcare professionals in the digital era,it is clear that the influence of stakeholders including healthcareprofessionals, patients, and policymakers upon each other has beendisrupted by digital channels. We must therefore consider the conceptof ‘Digital Opinion Leaders’ with an open mind. This is true not onlynow, but at all times in the future as we continue to learn throughengagement with, and observation of, digital stakeholders.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 16
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersWe might define a Digital Opinion Leader as anybody, or anorganization, who influences the view or behaviour of otherstakeholders through digital activity. The opportunity for apharmaceutical company is therefore to identify Digital Opinion Leaderswho are having an influence upon those stakeholders whose behaviourthe company wishes to shape. We will consider a practical approach tothis in the next section, Activating Digital Opinion Leaders. First, we willexplore the concept of a Digital Opinion Leader further by consideringsome possible examples.Patient Blogger, Kelly YoungI met Kelly Young in person at e-Patient Connections conference inPhiladelphia last year. Kelly is a patient who has lived with RheumatoidArthritis for the past six years, and for the last three of those she hasbeen writing her blog, Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior and engaging withother patients and professionals through social media channelsincluding Twitter and YouTube.We already considered Kelly Young’s digital influence when we lookedat the New Healthcare Engagement Environment in the earlier section.Kelly says that through her writing, speaking and use of social media sheis “…building a more refined and accurate awareness of RheumatoidAutoimmune Disease (RAD) aka Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) gearedtoward the public and medical community; creating ways to empowerRA patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; andbringing recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey.”Kelly’s role in the area of Rheumatoid Arthritis is mirrored by countlessother patient bloggers living with chronic disease. Other examplesinclude Kerri Sparling, one of numerous active bloggers and social mediaadvocates living with diabetes, who blogs at Six Until Me, or Lisa Emrichwho blogs at Brass and Ivory about her life with Multiple Sclerosis.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 17
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersPatient Advocacy Group, National Multiple Sclerosis SocietyWith over 136,000 ‘likes’, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’sFacebook page is a highly engaging environment connectingstakeholders who are affected by MS. It is more than a channel wherethe Society broadcasts information - every post on the page is followedby lively responses and most are shared by others, extending the reachof the page significantly.National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Facebookpage has over 136,000 ‘likes’ and is an engagingenvironmentFacebook is just one of the social media channels employed by theNational Multiple Sclerosis Society to engage stakeholders. The Societyoperates its own dedicated patient community, MS Connection,designed to connect patients together through blogs, discussions and© 2012 Creation Healthcare 18
Activating Digital Opinion Leaderslocal groups. It is also active on Twitter, and videos on the Society’sYouTube Channel have been viewed almost 1.5 million times.The role of patient advocacy groups as online influencers has beenrecognised by pharmaceutical companies through the establishing ofpartnerships to achieve mutual goals through digital engagement. Wewill explore some examples of this approach in the next section,‘Activating Digital Opinion Leaders’.Patient Activist, Christine O’ConnellI spoke with Christine O’Connell in March 2011, shortly afterpharmaceutical company KV Pharmaceutical’s share price had droppedby over 20% in just one day, and three weeks after Ms O’Connell hadlaunched a Facebook page in protest at the company’s pricing of itsnewly FDA-approved synthetic progesterone product.“I started this page quite simply because I was outraged”, she told me.“I knew if other people knew… they’d be outraged too. Facebook gaveme the platform to reach a lot of people in a short time”, she said,speaking of the page she created in protest at KV Pharmaceutical’spricing policy, which she entitled “Shame on you, KV Pharmaceuticaland CEO Greg Divis”.The Facebook page acted as a hub to connect mothers of prematurebabies who shared Ms O’Connell’s anger, and also attracted healthcareprofessionals, news media and medical organisations. “We sharedinformation and ideas on everything from boycotts to contacting ourCongressional representatives”, she said.Whilst the Facebook page was not the only activity that contributed tothe FDA writing a letter of clarification three weeks after its launch, itclearly played a role in mobilising extensive activity both online andoffline that ultimately had a major impact on one pharmaceuticalcompany.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 19
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersChristine O’Connell’s Facebook page protestingabout KV Pharmaceutical’s pricing contributed toa wave of public action leading to an FDAannouncement that caused the company’s shareprice to plummetSocial Media Doctor, Anne Marie CunninghamAnne Marie Cunningham is arguably one of the UK’s most influentialdoctors on Twitter. With over 7,000 followers, the GP and ClinicalLecturer is a prolific Twitter user, having posted almost 70,000 tweetssince she started tweeting in 2008. In the same year she launched herblog, entitled Wishful thinking in medical education, in which shepromotes the idea of collaborative learning through social media.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 20
Activating Digital Opinion Leaders“Medical education on Twitter is fantastic. There are no professional orgeographic boundaries to discussions”, writes Dr Cunningham in herblog. “And no boundaries to patients participating either!”The majority of Dr Cunningham’s tweets are used to engage directlywith other doctors, who are located all around the world. Her socialmedia engagement with others illustrates the global nature of theInternet, where ideas are shared openly between all stakeholdersregardless of geographic location. In a recent conversation about clinicalpractice, she directed a tweet at a Paediatrician in London, UK, then aPostgrad Medical Student in the UK’s West Midlands, and then aGastroenterologist in the US.Dr Cunningham is representative of a growing number of healthcareprofessionals who actively use social media platforms to ask and answerquestions and help shape each other’s medical education throughsocial media.The examples discussed here - the patients, advocacy groups andhealthcare professionals actively engaged via social media - provide apractical glimpse into the role of Digital Opinion Leaders in shaping thebehaviour of other health stakeholders, both online and offline. In thenext section I will outline Creation Healthcare’s three-step methodologyfor Activating Digital Opinion Leaders.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 21
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersActivating Digital Opinion LeadersThree steps to activating Digital Opinion Leaders:Identify; Engage; Activate.Since we have considered the role of Digital Opinion Leaders in shapingthe behaviour of others, it will be essential for a pharmaceuticalcompany wishing to partner with Digital Opinion Leaders to take stepsto encourage positive engagement. This does not occur by chance but ispossible by taking a three-step process: 1. Identify Digital Opinion Leaders 2. Engage Digital Opinion Leaders 3. Activate Digital Opinion LeadersAt first glance this approach may appear to be similar to the traditionalmethod of working with Key Opinion Leaders. The difference is that, as© 2012 Creation Healthcare 22
Activating Digital Opinion Leaderswe have already seen, in the digital world the role of influencers is non-linear and not limited by traditional models of stakeholder engagement.1. Identify Digital Opinion LeadersAccurate targeting will ensure the most effective deployment ofresources in activating Digital Opinion Leaders, and will increase thelikelihood of positive outcomes. To identify those influencers who willbe most relevant and effective for a pharmaceutical company, the goalsof Digital Opinion Leader engagement should be clearly defined.What is the desired outcome of Digital Opinion Leader activity? Is it, forexample, to influence prescriber behaviour, or that of patients? Toinfluence policy? Or to prepare a market for a product launch?Identifying these goals will direct the search for digital opinion leaders.Research into Digital Opinion Leaders may take place using a range oftools, including the following: Social Media Research, or ‘Passive Listening’ includes analysis of themes, language, and attitudes discussed around a particular topic such as a disease area or drug, to identify channels and individuals of influence. Digital Primary Research often involves ‘Active Listening’, asking research questions in a social media environment, and may include any form of primary research such as surveys or polls posted onto websites, forums, communities or by email. Digital Influence Analysis is an in-depth study of the influence of individuals online. Attention is given not merely to the numbers - such as number of followers - but to the focus of engagement, to identify insights relevant to the goals that have been set. Digital User Behaviour Analysis is the study of actual and likely journeys taken by stakeholders across digital channels and may include search activity, social media engagement, and website© 2012 Creation Healthcare 23
Activating Digital Opinion Leaders content browsing. A range of software tools and manual analysis techniques are used to develop a picture of user journeys in order to plan for the role of Digital Opinion Leaders. A Closed Networks Review includes a diverse range of research approaches inside closed networks, subject to tools and techniques made available by providers of platforms such as doctors’ social networks.All of the activities above may be carried out either by a pharmaceuticalcompany’s in-house teams, or by external multichannel research andplanning specialists such as Creation Healthcare, or in many cases, acombination of both.In my book, Pathways to Engagement for Healthcare Organizations, Iwrite about Pfizer’s ‘Can You Feel My Pain’ initiative which was awardedthe Healthcare Engagement Strategy ‘Patient Empowerment’ Award forits activation of patients and advocacy groups online. Louise Clark,Director International Public Affairs and Policy at Pfizer describes theuse of research in the campaign planning process: “We carried outresearch to look at who was talking about what, in which places; andthose greatest places of engagement opportunity were our initialtarget.”2. Engage Digital Opinion LeadersHaving identified possible Digital Opinion Leaders, establishing mutualgoals will be essential to any successful collaboration, advocacy orpartnership. Engaging Digital Opinion Leaders may take place online oroffline, although digital channels are often used for initial contact.For over three years, Roche Diabetes Care has been engaging an onlinecommunity of diabetes bloggers in the US. Rob Müller, AssociateMarketing Manager with Roche, says that the engagement started withhonest conversations in the online communities where the bloggerswere active. “We went in [to online communities] and told everybody,© 2012 Creation Healthcare 24
Activating Digital Opinion Leaders‘Hi, I’m Rob, I’m with Roche, I’m here to answer any questions you mayhave’”, he says.It takes patience to engage Digital Opinion Leaders, as trust isestablished over time. For Roche Diabetes Care, it has been worthwhile.After the company had hosted an annual summit of diabetes bloggersfor three years, one of the bloggers, Kerri Sparling, wrote about theSummit: “Seeing my fellow diabetes bloggers and advocates is alwaysthe highlight of this summit. I can’t lie about that. Walking into a roomand wanting to hug everyone in it is a rare thing. However, since thiswas the third Roche Summit I’ve attended, I sort of wanted to hug theRoche people, too.”Partnering with Digital Opinion Leaders requires an alignment ofmessages that serve mutual goals, and selection of channels for themost effective impact. Research carried out during the identificationstep is likely to inform these requirements.In some cases, the collaboration between a pharmaceutical companyand Digital Opinion Leaders is relatively uncoordinated, with fewparameters of channels fixed. In others, deliberate selection and use ofspecific channels between partners can support the building ofengagement momentum.“We learned a lot from talking with the patient groups andunderstanding how we could shape the campaign,” says Pfizer’s LouiseClark about the ‘Can You Feel My Pain’ initiative in which the companypartnered with patient advocacy groups across Europe using socialmedia channels including Flickr to share photos.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 25
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersPfizer’s collaboration with patient advocacygroups and patients included use of Flickr toshare photos.3. Activate Digital Opinion LeadersHaving identified and engaged Digital Opinion Leaders, activating themis a deliberate step to ensure that their advocacy or engagement iscommunicated online to those who they influence. As with anypartnership, the Digital Opinion Leader must see the value in thisprocess to them, not just to the pharmaceutical company.Value given to Digital Opinion leaders may take various forms, such asincreasing the profile or status of the Digital Opinion Leader; providing anew platform or tools for engagement; providing unique knowledge;up-skilling the Digital Opinion Leader for digital engagement; or orsupport for a mutual cause.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 26
Activating Digital Opinion Leaders“We helped [our partners] to deliver beyond this campaign, online...Now these organizations are tweeting, undertaking their own socialmedia activities,” says Louise Clark about Pfizer’s partnership withEuropean patient advocacy groups, which equipped them to be moreactive online.In some cases, then, activating a Digital Opinion Leader meansstrengthening the ‘digital’ aspect of their opinion leadership. Thus anycurrent opinion leader may become a Digital Opinion Leader by beingdigitally equipped or activated.Finally, the quest for Digital Opinion Leaders does not necessarilynegate the role of traditional Key Opinion Leaders or current channelsused in KOL activation. Remember that even Digital Opinion Leaders arereal people offline, too.© 2012 Creation Healthcare 27
Activating Digital Opinion LeadersWhat next?If you found this guide to activating Digital Opinion Leaders helpful, Iinvite you to sign up to receive our monthly e-journal, HealthcareEngagement Strategy, free of charge. It will keep you informed abouttips and techniques to improve your digital engagement and includesanalysis of how new communication channels are changing healthcare.Sign up now at www.engagementstrategy.com.If you would like to equip your team in any aspect of multichannelhealthcare engagement, I would be pleased to tell you more aboutCreation Healthcare’s in-house training for pharmaceuticalcommunicators and marketers. Courses range from half-day starterworkshops to a comprehensive series of practical, hands-on equippingand digital mentoring.Email me now at email@example.com to find outabout in-house training and mentoring.If you would like to start activating Digital Opinion Leaders to supportyour goals online now, I would love to help you. Whether you would likea brief consultation to help you get started, or a comprehensive DigitalOpinion Leader Identification, Engagement and Activation service, callme on +44 207 849 3167 for a conversation about how to make a start.I look forward to working with you.Daniel GhinnCEO, Creation Healthcaredaniel.firstname.lastname@example.org+44 207 849 3167© 2012 Creation Healthcare 28
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