More social media users are turning to and getting medical-related opinions and advice from influencers. In fact, nearly 40% of Gen Z is using TikTok and Instagram as search engines instead of Google.
It’s becoming an avenue of information for physicians as well, with 57% saying they frequently or occasionally change their opinion on medication due to social media. And 94% of pharma marketers view social media as a critical channel to reach key audiences.
All of this paints a clear picture for healthcare providers and pharma companies – influencers are a viable and necessary strategy today to share key information with audiences and connect with current or potential patients. However, it’s a complicated space for brands and finding success can be challenging as teams navigate unique circumstances due to healthcare rules and regulations.
To be successful, healthcare providers must partner with trusted cultural creators and social savvy HCPs to develop engaging and sensitive content and have deep knowledge of the regulatory nature of the sector. By achieving these important goals, healthcare and pharma brands can find their voice in the world of influencer marketing.
Understanding the Complicated World of Healthcare Regulations
Influencer marketing is a clear win for healthcare and pharma leaders; however, navigating how to do this effectively can present a lot of obstacles.
Before even getting into the importance of sensitivity in executing campaigns, brands first must understand and ensure they are addressing the following challenges:
- Regulatory limitations in the space
- The Sunshine Act and fair market pricing
- Legal and medical review of content and contracts with customers
- Benefit claims and product regulatory restrictions for content across platforms
- Misinformation, misuse and trolling, as well as protocol for responding to comments
All of this means that brands have some limitations in how they approach campaigns, which makes it harder for content to feel authentic and organic. Potential influencer and creator partnerships must understand the guardrails presented in this space – and it’s the job of the marketing team to provide the insight and background details necessary to inform content.
Companies should provide a deep dive into brand safety information, claims and safe use to identify content formats that will help meet regulatory standards but will also perform well. This way, healthcare and pharma leaders drive strategy and ensure regulatory compliance while still giving creators the opportunity to tell compelling narratives.
Finding the Right Creators is Key
Identifying the right influencers for your campaign is a bit of a science.
First, it’s important to find creators who are comfortable talking about specific medical conditions or concerns that your audience will resonate with. Followers will be able to tell if the content seems inauthentic or if there is discomfort in talking about certain topics, which will not help you develop relationships with patients.
This is why it’s important to have a data-driven perspective to inform an open dialogue with creators before beginning any relationships to uncover what story they can with authenticity.
Typically, we find influencer partners through Tagger, our influencer marketing technology solution, to look at lifestyle adjacencies, conversation and content relevant to specific medical issues. In this way, you can paint a full picture of the type of content your desired audience regularly consumes and can find influencers that can have a real impact.
Today, a huge issue surrounding marketing in the healthcare industry is health equity. There has historically been a lack of diverse representation in healthcare advertising and promotional efforts. As a result, marginalized communities have been less responsive to messaging and risk missing out on critical information about their health and well-being.
Influencers present a unique opportunity to connect with diverse groups and communities. It’s important that healthcare and pharma brands deliver culturally relevant content through diverse voices to reach them more effectively.
Content as an Artform
Where finding influencers is the science, informing content and telling authentic stories is an art form. As mentioned, healthcare and pharma companies are navigating strict regulatory stipulations, which can make it difficult to create compelling content.
To navigate this challenge, brands need to have an in-depth understanding of the kinds of content that perform well and resonate with potential patients and customers. For example, short myth-busting videos tackling common misconceptions about a medical condition may work great on TikTok, but longer testimonial-type videos featuring a pharmaceutical product may be better on Instagram.
Companies should work with creators to determine how the content may take shape, what key words should be included to drive discovery and provide recommendations for compelling storytelling. From here, it’s important to provide an in-depth overview of the agreed upon content to help creators understand guardrails to avoid reshoots and ensure approval.
Marketers should rely on data to help inform content and strategy decisions based on what’s truly working in the marketplace, which changes swiftly. By leveraging technology and working with trusted agency partners, companies can ensure the content is compliant and promising in terms of performance.
It’s a Jungle Out There
Influencer marketing is complicated in any industry, but healthcare requires more diligence due to complex regulations. However, it’s an important avenue for healthcare and pharma brands to reach diverse audiences and share critical information with people. By understanding the science and artform components of influencer marketing strategies, companies can navigate the uncertainty and find a way forward.
Corey Martin is the Managing Director of Creator Marketing at Lippe Taylor.