4 Keys to a Successful Healthcare Influencer Program

I started my career in television news, where our primary goal was to capture and engage audiences through their TVs. In the public relations and marketing world, television is only one of thousands of channels available to communicate with target audiences. As brand journalists, we’re constantly exploring these channels in search of ways to more effectively speak to our clients’ potential buyers, and we’ve found that influencers are key. In fact, we just returned from HIMSS 2017 where we met with a number of HIT influencers including Drex DeFord, Matt Fisher, Jennifer Dennard, Steve Sisko and Chuck Webster. So how do you get to the right influencers? And, more importantly, how do you engage with them? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Do Your Research

The first and most important step in influencer programming is research to identify the right influencers with the greatest reach. There are several free or low-cost tools to help with this including BuzzSumo, Littlebird and Klear. But don’t overlook good old-fashioned manual research. Although time-consuming, manual research can be more immersive, leading you to discover targets that are really driving engagement. This will force you to balance quality and quantity, potentially steering you toward lesser-followed influencers who are actually more deeply engaged with your audience.  

Offer Something They Love

A key benefit of using influencers for validation is that you connect directly into spheres of trust. Influencers won’t allow you into that sphere if they aren’t believers themselves, so you’ll need to be sure that what you’re selling aligns with the influencers’ agenda or delivers some mutual benefit. The best influencers – those who will create the deepest engagement – will not advocate for something they wouldn’t themselves embrace. So, don’t force it.

Be Flexible

Any influencer relationship will start with your goals, but it’s also important to remember that the influencers know their audiences and what drives them. Don’t push inflexibly at the expense of the relationship – be open to their ideas for content and execution. If they disagree with a blog topic, probe for the reasons; you may learn something new about your audience. Keeping an open mind could lead you down completely new and more lucrative pathways.

Remember It’s a Two-Way Street

The best influencers are in high demand and must be discriminating. You may need to be open to financial incentives or carve out time for them to speak to your audience, perhaps during an industry or client event. There must be something in it for the influencer, and your job is to find out what that is. Ask them about their goals for the partnership and what they hope to gain from it. Doing this early in discussions will save you some awkward conversations down the road.

We hope these tips are helpful. There’s more to building relationships than a few tips can convey, but maybe this can provide impetus for getting started.