Focus on Micro-Influencers

By Brian Castle, Digital Insights Lead

Influencers and micro-influencers both play a key role in medical innovation and communication. Let’s discuss the difficult task of identifying promising micro-influencers, and how important they can be for medical engagement with life sciences companies.

Big or Small

While most of us are familiar with the concept of an “influencer,” there’s some confusion about the term “micro-influencer.” Both of these groups exist in every industry, from healthcare and finance to engineering and manufacturing. They intermingle and create a complex ecosystem of influencers, going from the lead key opinion leaders (KOLs) to the emerging voices in the industry. When you examine the web of healthcare influencers, you see Modern Healthcare magazine, a large healthcare-related publication, toward the very top of the pyramid. Below them, there are large life sciences companies and smaller companies that sell highly-specialized products. You’ll also see some health care professionals who have achieved major influence, even at celebrity level (think: Dr. Sanjay Gupta). After that, you find the micro-influencers.

This group comes in many different forms, as they may be doctors working with underrepresented populations, who have small but engaged social media followings. It can be tempting to only pay attention to the top influencers in your industry, but investing in micro-influencer identification is vital to helping a wide range of patients and meeting a broader range of your business goals. For underserved groups or people suffering from rare diseases, there might not be a large number of traditional influencers shaping the therapeutic space, so the micro-influencers focused in these areas take on even greater importance. Just because these micro-influencers have smaller social media followings, it doesn’t mean their insights are less useful for opening up a world of strategic possibilities for your company in its efforts to serve patients and drive business, hand in hand.

Pitfalls of Traditional Influencer Research  

On any given topic, whether it’s healthcare, technology, or business, the digital world is filled with clutter. When you conduct a keyword search, it can easily generate millions of data points, pulling up every single hashtag, social media post, and internet search result. There are billions of conversations occurring online, and sifting through this information can be an overwhelming task for many researchers. Many pharmaceutical and life sciences companies have wasted countless dollars on influencer research, and their partners have come back with a useless data dump.

In addition to receiving a database full of unfiltered, irrelevant data, they will more than likely include a list of celebrity influencers and mainstream media outlets. Identifying these top voices in the industry is a simple task; by conducting a quick Google search, you can easily generate a list of the top 10 people in your field. Why pay for research that you could conduct yourself? Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to review digital work done by other companies, and we’ve seen that much of it presents both of these pitfalls. When a company commissions research, they’re looking for focused data that they cannot easily generate by themselves.

Ideal Signal-to-Noise Ratio

There’s a sweet spot between presenting a data dump and whittling search results down to nothing. At Thought Leader Select, we pride ourselves on striking the ideal signal-to-noise ratio when it comes to influencer research–high on signal, and low on noise. If you’re not familiar with this term, the signal-to-noise ratio is a measure that compares the level of the desired signal to the level of background noise. In any data set, there’s going to be a certain percent of “signal,” as in information relevant to your business, and “background noise,” as in useless clutter.

Our objective in influencer research is to present the most meaningful data to your organization. Through our scientific approach and customized searches, we’ll cut out of the noise and focus on what’s meaningful and actionable. Due to the sheer volume of information in the digital influencer space, this task involves intensive research and expert filtering. Our team of skilled professionals is fully equipped to handle your most complex research questions and deliver results that will improve your offerings.

It Takes a Village

For years, Thought Leader Select has consulted with companies who are searching for the ideal advisory board of healthcare professionals. They usually want to bring in the top KOLs, plus some younger clinicians who are bringing innovative thinking to the medical space. By recruiting a diverse collection of professionals for their advisory boards, companies will be well-positioned to accomplish any of their strategic goals.

While some companies simply want to monitor what the KOLs they already know of are doing in the digital sphere, other companies require a more complex view of the influencers in their field. For therapeutic areas where new treatments and medicines are being developed frequently, they need to look at the intricate and quickly shifting mosaic of key stakeholders. By expanding the search from solely physicians to health systems, allied health professionals, patient advocacy groups, centers of excellence, and even healthcare-oriented journalists, they can get a thorough understanding of the key leaders and how to engage with them.

A Research Partner That Delivers Results

If you’re interested in learning more about our digital influencer research, please contact us today.


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