The Rise of Influencer Marketing: How Patient Leaders Bring Value to Campaigns
Published July 27th, 2022 | 5 Minute Read
An evolution in technology and human behaviors has led to a near-universal use of and reliance on social and digital tools for information, connection and support. This is especially true in the case of people living with chronic and complex health conditions, who often turn to social health tools during meaningful moments in their health journeys to better understand their condition or connect with people who have their same experiences.
Social health—the dynamic, real-time action people take to find meaningful connections and share information that impact the health journey—has dramatically shifted the ways in which healthcare marketers can, and should, reach their desired audiences. In fact, 95% of respondents to a recent Health Union survey – all living with chronic health conditions – said they use social resources for health purposes.
What makes social health resources so appealing for people with chronic health conditions is the ability to connect directly with real people who understand their perspectives and experiences with specific conditions. Patients leverage social health platforms to share their experiences and connect with others.
In doing so, patient leaders have developed relationships with others who share their condition experiences and garnered an immense amount of trust for their authenticity, openness and dedication to making a difference. As a result, they are viewed as significant, important and influential voices in their communities.
Partnering with patient leaders on influencer marketing campaigns represents a significant opportunity for healthcare marketers to reach socially engaged health audiences who are increasingly difficult to reach through traditional media & marketing channels.
Why Patient Leaders Are the Right Voices for Influencer Marketing Campaigns
For healthcare marketers, realizing the impact of partnering with patient leaders may require overcoming the traditional understanding of influencer marketing focused around celebrities and lifestyle influencers. For decades, brands have partnered with celebrities on endorsements and marketing campaigns. As a result, some might have the misconception that influencer marketing with patient leaders operates the same way.
Patient leaders, however, are vastly different from celebrity or lifestyle influencers, who have large, broad followings, and require an entirely different philosophical approach and strategy to partnership.
Although patient leaders tend to have comparatively smaller followings than celebrity and lifestyle influencers, their content is tailored specifically to their health and the people living with and navigating the conditions they share. On top of that, patient leaders see themselves not as influencers, but as making a difference within their communities.
Importantly, these patient leaders have built a well-established foundation of authenticity and trust in their communities, leveraging a variety of social and digital tools, from Instagram to blogs to TikTok. In living with the condition they are discussing or, in the case of caregivers, caring for someone with the condition, they lend a sophisticated level of experience that can help to support, validate and educate their followers.
In fact, a 2020 survey conducted by WEGO Health, now Health Union, revealed an inverse relationship in trust between patient and celebrity influencers, with 51% of respondents stating that they mostly or completely trusted patient influencers and 50% stating that they do not or only slightly trusted lifestyle influencers.
Patient leaders are knowledgeable about and aligned to the populations that healthcare marketers want to reach, they are well-known and trusted within their condition communities and they are passionate about making a difference in their condition community. Additionally, they understand what social health tools to leverage, as well as how to communicate in terms of language, tone, style and condition-specific concerns and sensitivities, to effectively communicate with their audiences.
How Influencer Marketing with Patient Leaders Can Benefit the Healthcare Industry
As a result, partnering with patient leaders on influencer marketing campaigns represents an optimal, socially driven solution that connects with these individuals’ audiences. Since communications occur largely within patient leaders’ preferred channels, these initiatives naturally reach the audiences – highly engaged ones – whom healthcare marketers are looking to reach.
Perhaps even more important, working with patient leaders on influencer marketing campaigns can help brands understand the mutual value of establishing and maintaining authentic relationships with patient leaders, as well as understand how that can help generate a positive reputation within the industry.
For these campaigns to truly be impactful and provide value for both the healthcare industry and people living with chronic and complex health conditions, healthcare marketers need to find people who can authentically connect with the audience in meaningful ways, instead of simply “checking the box.”
These initiatives are also more fruitful when there is open collaboration between the company and the patient leader. As the healthcare industry proactively seeks a more patient-centric approach, influencer marketing campaigns with patient leaders serve as an excellent opportunity to listen to these individuals’ ideas and to show them they can, and should, have a “seat at the table.”
Influencer marketing with patient leaders is all about developing and maintaining relationships. Health Union engages and builds relationships with patient leaders in a variety of different capacities through the Social Health Network – including as contributors, moderators and digital opinion leaders – based on how they want to make connections and make an impact.
In addition to these fostered relationships, Health Union has a deep understanding of the patient journey within condition communities, as well as the unique needs of healthcare marketers. As a result, Health Union is uniquely positioned as the only partner who can facilitate influencer marketing campaigns with a mutually beneficial impact.
To learn how your brand can plug into the power of social health with transformative influencer marketing campaigns in partnership with patient leaders – visit our Business Solutions page.