Digital Opinion Leaders: who are they and why should you partner with them?

By Jennifer Webb



When it comes to advertising and promoting your healthcare organisation, you need to convince customers and patients that you’re reliable and trustworthy before you begin to sell them new products or services. Modern audiences want to know that the organisations they deal with are committed to them and their needs, which is why Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) have such an impact on advertising in the healthcare space.

What is a DOL?

A DOL, or Digital Opinion Leader, can be anyone from within the healthcare space – whether they are a doctor, nurse, patient advocate, or a representative from a health organisation. The typical DOL tends to have a large presence on social media and a high rate of engagement with thousands or even millions of followers. For any social media strategist, collaborating with individuals who have a high rate of engagement is music to their ears.

How do DOLs differ from other healthcare professionals?

Rather than getting involved with the academic side of healthcare, DOLs use their platforms to inform and engage with the general public; spreading awareness surrounding various health issues, such as the importance of washing your hands properly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic or dispelling poor information. DOLs also use their social channels to promote the research and work of peers in the healthcare sector, or even promote recent talks or congresses.   

Reasons to partner with a digital opinon leader?

One of the top reasons why DOLs are pivotal to any healthcare engagement strategy is because they enable you to communicate with a genuine and trusted source. By collaborating with DOLs, you put your organisation on the pathway to securing consumers / patients that trust and believe in your product or service. If consumers engage with content produced by healthcare professionals, then they are more likely to want to seek further information regarding your products and services.

Why else should you set up partnerships with DOLs? Think about the returns. By reaching out to DOLs with supplies, you could be well on your way to an increase in sales or sign-ups to your service. Linked to this is the advantage of an increase in followers, and whilst not every follower translates to a guaranteed sale or new customer, every follower counts towards promoting and growing the online presence of your organisation and messaging.

Incorporating DOLs as part of your digital marketing strategy could see your organisation forming an online community and opening up the public conversation surrounding some key health issues. Think of DOLs as the influencers of the healthcare space — potential sellers of your product and as sources of information when it comes to healthcare.

In addition to an increased number of followers and greater engagement on your social channels, partnering with DOLs also ensures compliance. With there being several restrictions in place when it comes to producing and sharing healthcare content, having a DOL become a part of your digital marketing strategy means that you are able to meet the legal regulations for sharing healthcare content and gain credibility too.

Through working alongside a DOL as part of your engagement strategy, you can make greater use of social listening tools by monitoring both your channels and their platforms, too. Another reason as to why you should engage with DOLs is because you can create collaborative content for both of your social channels. Sharing collaborative content not only helps you to earn the loyalty of your consumers, but also adds to your legitimacy as an organisation in the healthcare space. With the help of a DOL, you can grow your brand not just digitally, but offline too.

The effect of DOLs on your engagement

If you are a healthcare organisation that’s new to the world of digital marketing and online content creation, then partnering up with a DOL as part of your new engagement strategy might encourage you to increase the number of platforms you use, or indeed, to gear your content towards a specific platform. Dr Mike, for instance, is an example of this. Now a content creator on Tik Tok, a platform that has received an unrivalled amount of attention over the past year, Dr Mike shares useful videos that have the capacity to inform the general public about different illnesses and viruses, such as COVID-19. Similarly, another DOL who is keen to educate and inform individuals online is Dr Alex George. First known for appearing on the ITV show Love Island, Dr Alex now delivers content and answers healthcare queries on his Instagram page. Stories are a brilliant way of sharing content that is useful and informative, which is why partnering with a DOL is the right move for your healthcare organisation.  

How do you identify a DOL?

The vast digital plane that is social media can be challenging to navigate at times, but fortunately, there are some key steps as to how you can identify DOLs before you collaborate with them. Aside of DOLs having a significant following online, there are also manual checks, that you, as an organisation (or social team) can carry out. These checks involve your team ensuring that their channels are genuine and reliable, as well as seeing whether their facts are from a trustworthy source too.

After you have carried out the necessary manual checks, then the next step towards identifying a DOL is through automated processes such as social listening tools, specifically designed for healthcare. By using social listening tools, this gives your brand the opportunity to analyse their engagement rate and assess whether they are the right DOL for your organisation and whether they appeal to your ethos. Once you have followed the necessary steps to finding a DOL, then prepare yourselves for a new and improved digital marketing strategy.   

Developing recognition within the healthcare sector

As a healthcare organisation, collaborating with a DOL offers you great potential to deliver fresh and informative content to your followers, as well as boost engagement and develop wider recognition from others within the healthcare industry. Not only do DOLs have a significant impact on your following and the kind of content you are creating, but they also offer your organisation the opportunity to branch out and use multiple social channels. Incidentally, the more channels you have a presence on, then the more likely you are to grow your target audience and become more accessible. Accessibility is also a key factor when it comes to digital marketing, since all platforms will have a predominant group of individuals using them.

Navigating your online presence as a healthcare organisation can be a confusing process, especially when you have to fulfil legally compliant guidelines. We hope, though, that with these useful tips and advice on how to identify a DOL, that you can achieve amazing results from your healthcare engagement strategy.  

How can your organisation work with DOLs?

This is where we come in to help. We are BBI Health, a full-service, digital marketing agency that’s dedicated to the healthcare sector. We work with leading healthcare organisations to help them achieve their digital goals, wheter it’s delivering a creative social media campaign, web and app design or a fully integrated marketing solution. Get in touch with us today to find out more and how our experts can help you achieve your goals.