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Mention “influencers” and names like Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift immediately come to mind. They have credibility, access to a huge audience via social media, and the ability to persuade others to act on their recommendations.
If you’re a fashion designer or cosmetics company, a mere mention about your brand from an influencer can translate into instant success. But can influencers in other realms, like healthcare, have a comparable positive impact?
Historically, physicians and scholars communicated their findings at conferences and through medical journals. Patients typically learned of breakthroughs only when they were reported in mainstream media. But today, there’s a better option, one that allows healthcare professionals to become Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) by communicating directly with peers, patients and the general public.
Social media platforms – LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. – offer an opportunity to disseminate accurate medical information and promote new ideas. KOLs and DOLs are the go-to people in their field of expertise. They may be physicians, hospital executives, health system directors, scientists or patient advocacy group leaders.
They can voice their views and become part of the online conversation, sharing their ideas with far larger audiences than they ever could before. In time they become trusted sources who move and inspire people with their innovative perspectives and ability to turn ideas into reality.
Becoming a DOL can’t be done overnight. It’s a process in which you develop a strategy with specific goals. Over time, you create a library of posts that highlight your chosen healthcare subject or therapeutic area and advance your position. You cultivate digital fluency, becoming proficient on multiple platforms.
As you share digital assets, you gain followers. You’re continually building credibility as an authority in your space. Every post grows your organization’s online presence and promotes your message.
To succeed as a DOL, you should be among the first to share new information. Your material should be factual, supported by credible data. Your posts are thoughtful, insightful.
You’re not just a social media lurker; you’re a content creator, continually crafting, curating and disseminating relevant information. Others link to your posts and share them with their own followers, increasing your exposure. And your posts remain online where they can continuously be rediscovered to influence new members of your audience.
When utilized correctly, DOLs can be a powerful asset for any healthcare or life sciences company large or small, helping them to achieve strategic goals such as:
Keep in mind that you don’t have to create all content yourself. You’ve already got a full-time job keeping people healthy! Instead, you can work with a professional copywriter to create social media posts, thought leadership articles, blogs and more. He or she can do the legwork to develop ideas and create content that reflects your position.
Whether you’re representing a healthcare organization, pharmaceutical or nutritional supplement company, physician practice or yourself, you can put in place a systematic process to become a DOL. While you may never get as many followers as Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift, you can drive achievement of your strategic goals and have a positive impact on healthcare.