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Rise of the patient influencer

By Simone Stevens

As social media has grown, so too has the breadth of influencers and the opportunities to use social platforms. The healthcare industry has traditionally been reluctant and risk-averse when it comes to considering influencers as a voice for their brand, but that’s changing quickly, with the increase in patient influencers.

So what is a patient influencer?

They are patients themselves, who use social media to share the highs and lows of managing their condition on a day-to-day basis. These influencers are communicating with other patients in their own, fresh voice – unmediated by patient groups or the third sector.

The power of the patient influencer

Patient influencers offer genuine content in an authentic voice. It’s compelling for those living with the same condition, and can be significant in helping them cope. At its simplest, patients trust patient influencers.

For some people living with long-term health conditions, life can be isolating. Social media enables easier communication with others in the same situation with patient influencers often having a loyal following which itself forms a dedicated online community.

What can patient influencers offer pharmaceutical brands?

There are several ways patient influencers can offer significant support to brands:

  • Insider knowledge – understanding how they really think, feel and manage their condition can offer invaluable insights
  • Content creation – influencers are often incredibly creative with content and could support brand campaigns
  • Integration – working with social influencers could be the missing link in a communication campaign
  • Engagement and conversation – patient influencers and their audiences are passionate about their condition, and so monitoring how they engage could be key to campaign direction or even product development.

Governing body acceptance

For a long time it has been unclear, in terms of governing direction, how our industry can work with influencers. However, the recent New Social Media Guidance (UK Code) launched by the Healthcare Communications Association has outlined key parameters to provide clarity.

For brands finding their feet on social media, building relationships with patient influencers is the next step.

Simone Stevens is a Senior Influencer Strategist at Pegasus

In association with

2nd June 2020

From: Marketing

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