In today's volatile market scenario, listening and engaging Key Opinion Leaders or KOLs in your digital marketing plan is very crucial. In order to identify KOLs, there has to be a firm understanding of the issues and circumstances that make them key in the first place. Typically the opinion leader is held in high esteem by those who accept his or her opinions. KOLs are often regarded as the key to business success in Pharmaceutical/Healthcare industry. They are the agents who actively participate in discussions or forums in order to address drug-related issues or queries raised by people. Now, the question is “How do they influence your brand perception?”
KOLs may not necessarily be involved directly with your brand; however, they have the ability to build or destroy your brand image by influencing their followers. They are the people others are watching. Irrespective of the therapeutic field, the use of KOLs is a global phenomenon for business success. In pharmaceutical business research, KOL management and mapping play important role. Your KOL databases have to have the names who can easily tell what your research should focus and what are the target customers’ current needs. In terms of marketing & sales, KOLs act as a the leading indicator of therapy acceptance. Pharma companies generally connect with the KOLs early in the drug development process to provide advocacy activity and key marketing feedback.
To identify the KOLs, you need to know their key characteristics. Market Strategies International conducted a research study among a selected group of 100 national and regional KOLs and came out with the following key characteristics of a KOL:
- Regularly sought out by their colleagues for opinions or advice
- Speak often at regional or national conferences
- Have published articles in a major journal during the past two years
- Consider themselves early adopters of new treatments or procedures
- Help establish protocols for patient care
Identifying KOLs using social network analysis
Mostly medical practitioners use their local network to advice, opine and showcase their expertise. You can term it as a closed community that has the ability to influence millions of people. It needs a sophisticated algorithm that takes into account both the direct and indirect links in the network to identify the best influencers who really can create an impact on your consumers to build an opinion or a sentiment. If you have a strong community management model around your brand, these influencers will bring in more people to talk about your brand. Building an interacting model of communication and closely monitoring the conversation help to build strong brand perceptions which result in increase velocity of product adoption.
So, are you listening???