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.