Simone Stevens, senior influencer strategist, explains why influencer marketing in the Pharma industry isn’t as frightening as you think.
As marketers and communications experts, we’re used to building relationships in the industry. From befriending journalists to speaking with healthcare professionals (HCPs) and connecting with patients, we adapt our communication to different people on a daily basis.
It’s no different in the world of influencer marketing. In fact, you already have the skills you need to create a successful influencer strategy.
(1) Influencers provide social proof, like family and friends
It’s long been established that word-of-mouth is one of the strongest marketing tools above traditional advertising. We look to our family and friends for recommendations and opinions. Social influencers have harnessed this effect and made it a tactical and tangible marketing tool.
Influencers post as themselves, sharing personal experiences and a daily feed of their lives which creates a close relationship with their followers.
So powerful is this influencer-follower relationship that Adweek reports that 92 per cent of consumers believe influencer recommendations are more authentic than an advertisement [i].
Takeout tip – when your campaign objective is about building brand loyalty and trust, working with carefully-selected influencers could be the gateway to new audiences.
(2) Build long term relationships
As influencer marketing has evolved, so has the working relationship with influencers. The industry is moving away from a ‘pay per post’ approach and looking to work with influencers on longer term contracts as brand ambassadors and advocates.
Building strong relationships with key relevant influencers has become just as important as building these relationships with core industry press or the key audience target.
Once you’ve identified your influencer, get to know them as you would any core press contact. You should research their channels, look at the style of their posts and make a note of their likes and dislikes. Arrange to meet them and talk to them regularly to build the foundations of a long term, positive relationship.
Takeout tip – by working closely with influencers who genuinely value the brand and by building strong rapport, you can ensure value exchange for both influencer and brand.
(3) Creativity is key
Just as a brand or company has its own identity, influencers often have their own format and tone for their channels, which is one of the reasons their audiences engage with them.
Ensuring they’re able to use their own style without unnecessary restrictions supports authenticity and genuine content creation and builds brand advocacy with both the influencer and their audience. Work with the influencer on the brief and allow flexibility where possible. This will help create an open and honest working relationship from the outset.
Takeout tip – take time to explain any industry restrictions the brand or campaign may need to adhere to. Many influencers may not realise restrictions exist so this can help the influencer to more clearly understand the broad guidelines they can work to.
(4) Know your audience
As with any part of a communications plan it’s essential to identify your audience and the best channel on which to reach them.
Again, it’s just the same with influencers – when you know your audience demographic and the channels they use, you can then find the key influencers in those channels your audience follows, engages with and actively seeks information from.
Takeout tip – thorough research into the audience you need to target and the influencers who are the best fit for your campaign are key to success. This helps ensure that key campaign messages land and there’s a stronger possibility of achieving behaviour change
(5) Keep it compliant
The health and pharmaceutical sectors has its fair share of regulations. And influencer marketing has its own set of rules you also need to familiar yourself with.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has been applying stricter guidelines, monitoring the industry more closely and in some cases these bodies have even brought legal action.
Although it might seem daunting, the strict climate of compliance in the pharma industry means this may not be the hurdle you imagine.
Takeout tip – if influencer activity is deemed non-compliant then all parties involved would be liable in the eyes of the law. Always seek advice from the agency you’re working with or directly from the ASA and CMA if you’re unsure.
These pointers should highlight how your skillset is easily transferable to influencer marketing. And with 75% of marketers saying they use some form of influencer marketing[ii] it’s no longer a communications stream that can be ignored.
The industry has moved a long way from the initial days of working with bloggers simply to tick the latest trend box. Standout campaigns require a strong, creative and capable strategic approach to working with the right influencers, on the right channels to target the right audiences. That’s why planning right from the beginning of the process can help focus your search for the right influencer.
Make planning your first stop
Having a strategic and considered approach to upfront planning ensures a campaign is built on the right foundations. And as part of this, it’s important to ensure all the tactical elements, including influencer marketing, are given equal thought and expert consideration.
At Pegasus, we operate a thorough strategic planning model which takes our clients on a journey. This starts with gathering insights about the market and our target audience, right through to the impact we want our campaigns to have – and influencer marketing is an increasingly important part of the mix.
If you would like more information on our approach to planning or you’d like to discuss running a successful influencer marketing campaign, please visit: http://www.thisispegasus.co.uk/
This article first appeared on PM Live in November 2018.
[i] Gil Eyal, April 2018 https://www.adweek.com/digital/creating-a-human-brand-through-influencer-marketing/
[ii] Zine, 2018, Influencer Marketing: Science, Strategy and Success Report