Over the past few years, influencer marketing has proven to be an impactful way to educate consumers about products, combat negative reviews and increase sales. And with recent rises in AdBlock technology and upward trending social media usage rates, more advertisers than ever are turning to high-profile influencers over traditional forms of digital advertising.
The main reason? Consumers have increasingly demonstrated that they trust influencers over branded content, and advertisers are taking notice. In fact, statistics show that 48% of brands plan to increase their influencer spend this year.
However popular influencer marketing may be, every industry and brand must carefully examine the unique factors at play when considering whether it’s right for them. In the case of healthcare, those factors include strict industry regulations and running the risk of losing patient trust.
Why the Healthcare Market is Ripe for Influencer Marketing
Research shows that 27% of people use social media to research products prior to purchase, which supports the notion that consumers heavily value the opinions of their peers. This behavior is no different in the healthcare industry, where diagnosed or symptomatic patients turn to an online world of memes, hashtags, and patient influencers for trusted medical guidance and support.
All of this is to say that patients are willing to trust healthcare influencers. But with every opportunity to build trust comes the risk of betraying it, making it critical for healthcare advertisers to carefully consider their strategy before embarking on any influencer campaign.
Considerations for Your Influencer Marketing Campaign
- Know your target audience. Before you can find the right patient influencers, you need to know exactly who your target audience is and what sources they use for information and advice. Conducting interviews with your audience or asking an agency partner for available research can help provide insights as to what channels they use to seek information and if there are any particular influencer they like to follow. In addition, it’s important to know what content and topics they like to see, how they feel about brand participation, and what they want from patient influencers in order to create a campaign that resonates with them.
- Find the right patient influencers. Once key patient influencers have been identified that align with your brand, it’s important to learn their agenda, which can be a complex task. Knowing the influencer’s channel goal and objectives, and what kind of content/topic they like to publish and ensuring it aligns with the feedback you gathered from your target audience will help ensure the message benefits all parties involved.
- Take a real life, helpful approach. Due to heavy regulations, many health care companies are taking a different approach with branded content. They are sponsoring posts, videos, or blogs that provide helpful content to followers such as handling healthcare costs and advice for living with chronic pain rather than promoting a specific product in an unbranded approach. This strategy positions you as a thought leader and creates sense of trust with your target audience, establishing a connection rather than garnering skepticism through a veiled sales pitch.
The Bottom Line
Influencer marketing is a viable option in healthcare, but advertisers need to proceed with caution. First, healthcare advertisers must fully understand the regulations that apply to their industry. Next, they need to carefully formulate a strategic approach based on their audience’s demographics, attitudes and behaviors in order to identify the right influencers, and then present them in an authentic, non-threatening way. If these keys are met, trust can be established, allowing influencers to significantly create connections with consumers that can drive sales at a high ROI.