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Are Your KOLs Also DOLs?

A new survey shows physicians are routinely influenced by peer commentary on social-media channels. So, key opinion leaders who present at life-science company meetings could extend their influence by also acting as digital opinion leaders.

A January survey of more than 200 U.S.-based physicians found that 57 percent frequently or occasionally change their perception of a medication or a treatment based on content they see on social media.

The survey, conducted by healthcare-insights firm Sermo and digital-marketing agency LiveWorld, also found that “walled-garden” online physician communities have a greater effect on healthcare professionals’ opinions about therapies and devices than do public social platforms that include the perspectives of patients and their families.

When looking at how physicians are engaging with public social platforms, the survey finds HCPs’ needs being met by various channels:

  • Physicians are turning to private medical groups on social media, and Facebook is their platform of choice: 52 percent reported being part of a private group on Facebook.
  • Physicians find LinkedIn to be the most helpful social platform for alerting them to medical-congress and key opinion leader presentations.
  • Twitter is the platform of choice for physicians to follow the activities of hospitals and professional organizations.

Further, 46 percent of surveyed physicians reported following fellow physicians or other HCP influencers on social platforms. The main reasons given for doing so: Their content is credible based on their credentials; they are knowledgeable about the topics shared; and their content is relatable to the follower’s specialty.

This trend has not escaped the notice of marketing teams at life-science companies. Some proof: Of more than 50 pharma marketers who were also surveyed by Sermo and LiveWorld, 56 percent have digital-influencer programs in place for this year.

One key question they must consider: Can the key opinion leaders who speak at their firm’s HCP events be persuaded to have a similar presence on social media, and become digital opinion leaders?

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