Social Media Has Created a New Opportunity for Medical Affairs
Medical Affairs professionals are constantly seeking new and creative ways to strategically engage with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). Two primary responsibilities of Medical Affairs are sharing data with KOLs to help them make better treatment decisions and gathering KOL insights to improve company strategy. Social media has created a new opportunity for Medical Affairs to meet these objectives.
An independent study of more than 50,000 KOLs conducted by Acceleration Point found KOLs are increasing their scientific discussion on social media. In fact, 54% of those surveyed were involved in scientific discussions or articles across social media, in the news and on the web. Additionally, 18% of these KOLs have Twitter accounts with an average of 2,200 followers. More than 25% of those followers were identified as fellow healthcare professionals.
Monitoring scientific mentions of KOLs on these digital platforms presents a tremendous opportunity to increase the frequency and quantity of insights gathered about your KOLs. Social media data gathering also enables Medical Affairs to find Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs).
DOLs are usually healthcare professionals with a strong social media presence, usually focused on one platform, such as Twitter. DOLs are often credentialed experts who are discussing science and engaging online with a significant and relevant audience.
Many in Medical Affairs are just starting to see the importance of DOLs. Their reach shows DOL online influence is staggering. The Acceleration Point study found most disease areas have between 30 and 50 true global DOLs, with certain specialties such as oncology and cardiology having significantly more.
So, how do you identify these new DOLs? Specifically, what should you consider when designating someone as a digital opinion leader? Here are the three essential criteria to consider.
- Number of Followers
Knowing the number of individuals a DOL is potentially interacting with every time they post is key to estimating their possible reach on a given topic. Generally, larger follower counts translate to greater potential influence. At Acceleration Point, we look for digital opinion leaders with at least 1,500 to 2,000 followers.
- Number of Followers Who Are Health Care Practitioners
Understanding the composition of a DOL’s audience is also important, particularly the number of healthcare professionals they are reaching. Ideally, at least 25% of a DOL’s audience will have a connection to the healthcare industry. To evaluate a prospective DOL’s network, you can review their list of followers for their identified professions. As you can imagine, this is a time-consuming task. At Acceleration Point, we perform complex, multi-lingual data analysis for you to determine the number of healthcare professionals following each DOL.
- Number of Relevant Topic Mentions
DOLs can post their own original content, share content created by others or some combination of the two. Some of a DOL’s content should be relevant to your therapeutic area, indication, company or product. You can review and analyze a DOL’s posts for keywords and themes to develop an understanding of the DOL’s frequency of mentions aligned to your interests. After all, it only matters how many people they can reach if they’re sharing content relevant to your scientific topics of interest!
With basic social monitoring tools, Medical Affairs can search through public online conversations for insights. However, as the amount of data increases, so does the noise, making it difficult to truly gain insights and value.
How do you cut through the noise to identify new DOLs and relevant scientific discussions involving your existing KOLs? Acceleration Point has the tools, strategy and expertise to help you navigate the new world of digital KOL engagement.