Sunday, April 2, 2017

Has Influencer Marketing’s Time Arrived for Providers?

Influencer marketing is generating a lot of attention.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of activity but the little strategy behind the marketing. Oh, and let me be clear before going much further,  that I do not mean hiring celebrities to be the spokesperson for the providers B2C marketing.

Hiring a celebrity to be the spokesperson the hospital or health system can be an expensive and risky proposition. Not everyone in the entertainment segment or sport they represent may have a large enough following in your market.

What is influencer marketing?

Simply put, a person of influence can effect action.  Fans, friends, and followers are meaningless; it’s not about going after the most famous person. It’s about finding the influencer who can best move your audience to take action that brings benefit to you and them.  An influencer may be an industry expert. It may be someone internally. 

Think of influencer marketing as a relationship that co-creates meaningful content within a strategic marketing plan with defined goals that is measurable. Influencer marketing is not creating isolated pieces of content or campaigns. You want to build respective value beyond compensation.

Influencer marketing missteps to avoid.

There has been a limited effort to date on providers part in using influencer marketing. But from what I have seen, here are five things to avoid.  

1.       One-off campaigns: Using influencers once then abandoning the effort only to start again does little to change or influence the potential healthcare consumer. You must aim for sustainability. 
2.       Don’t focus on celebrities. Stars granted have a broad audience, but they are hard to reach, expensive to activate and may not be the most relevant. 
3.       Using Influence marketing for ads only: Sure the endorsement looks great in the ad, and it makes the board and doctors happy. But, is that driving the healthcare consumer to you? Doubtful. You need to co-create content and let the influencer step out and work on your behalf. 
4.       Pay-to-Play: I am not saying that you should not pay influencers. But what I am saying is that if the only value exchange between you and the influencer is cash, and you are not co-creating great content; then there is no mutual benefit. The benefit is one-sided, theirs. 
5.       Not measuring the right metrics: You can measure the business value of influencer marketing, not just social media engagements and brand lift. Start with the right goals and metrics to measure these aims.

What you need to in influencer marketing. 

1.       Have an adequate budget. It’s important to understand the opportunity for return on investment. What does it cost to implement the program measured against the cost of losing access to the top influencers in your market when the competition gets there first.  Think about it as a program, not unique projects. Long-term relationships create the most value for your spend. 
2.       Follow the insight.  That means doing your market research to understand the hospitals market and identify those influencers who can affect change and move the market. Don’t guess, know. 
3.       Identify the top influencer marketing goals. The influencer marketing program is about ROI, not brand lift and awareness. Make sure your goals and the influencers goals are in alignment. 
4.       Identify what areas are most impacted by influencer marketing. Social media marketing and content marketing are your best areas. Remember that social media is a baseline. Look to your make your program highly integrated across the organization and commercialization channels. The healthcare consumer is omnichannel which means that your influencer marketing needs to be omnichannel as well.

It is easy to get started in influencer marketing. From those first steps, you can grow your efforts in creating a sustainable long-term program built on relationships and moving markets.

Remember influencer marketing is additive, not exclusive, and long-term not short-term.
Influencer marketing’s time has come for providers, but it’s not celebrity driven, and one-off campaigns.  It’s about long-term beneficial relationships that create value for sustained success.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

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