Digital opinion leaders or DOLs are a new breed of life science influencers with powerful, global networks leveraging the most accessible digital platforms. In this three-part blog series, we’ve already given an overview of what DOLs are, and discussed how to identify them. This time, we’re here to talk about how life science teams can engage with the DOLs in their disease communities, and examine the best ways to put their skills and influence to good use.
Previously, we’ve discussed how social media, social listening, and network analytics can be used to find and identify DOLs. It’s equally important for life science teams to maintain their own digital presence if they are to prove to DOLs that there’s value in collaboration. Posting thoughtful, relevant content and engaging with others in your community can help to build an engaged audience, and demonstrate to DOLs that there’s merit in engaging with your brand.
But remember: social media is not the place to engage DOLs in conversation. Those discussions should be had via secure, compliant virtual engagement platforms, where conversations can take place with full confidentiality. Before those conversations can begin, life science teams need to consider how and why DOLs would want to engage with them. DOLs might be motivated by raising awareness around a particular disease or patient concern, by promoting research, or by furthering scientific discussion. They’re unlikely to be moved by promoting a company or product, or by the promise of self-advancement.
Identifying a project
Use what motivates DOLs to inform the kind of projects you’d like to collaborate on. Brand building projects are unlikely to attract their interest, so consider patient support, disease education projects or clinical trials instead. Projects need to map to their values: improving patient outcomes, disseminating information, or furthering the science.
Roles for DOLs
Once you’ve identified the DOLs in your disease community and engaged them in conversation, you need to find an appropriate role to extract the most value from their skills and influence.
DOLs can be particularly valuable as moderators in asynchronous insight generation sessions. DOL patient advocates are often seen as more approachable than pharma company executives in patient-led sessions, helping to put advisors at their ease and draw out the best responses. DOLs are also digitally savvy, on top of the latest trends and research, and deeply embedded in the community and the conversation, so they make ideal moderators.
Creating a virtual panel of DOLs is an effective way to generate insights or monitor sentiment from HCPs and patients. You can also engage DOLs as a steering committee or sounding board to advise on digital best practices.
DOLs are expert content creators. Collaborating with them to create co-branded content can extend the reach of your own digital interactions, allowing you to tap into new audiences and lending your digital communications added reach and credibility.
By partnering with patient advocates, life science teams can effectively enhance clinical trial enrollment and retention. DOLs have significant reach and influence, so their opinions tend to carry a lot of weight. Tap into their networks to help meet your clinical trial enrollment targets.
DOLs may not always be HCPs, but they’re generally subject matter experts. Their fresh perspectives can unlock the kind of insights that device manufacturers and pharma companies are unlikely to come up with alone, leading to significant value generation and improved patient outcomes.
To extract maximum value from the DOLs within your disease community, you need to identify the right stakeholders and engage them in the right way. Fortunately, this process also benefits from increased digital capabilities: network analytics can help identify the opinion leaders within your disease community and even provide a score based on their connections and influence, so you can determine who represents the greatest value for your organization. And a secure, compliant, asynchronous virtual engagement platform enables you to engage key stakeholders to unlock the most critical insights.
To learn more about how to identify, engage, and work with digital opinion leaders, download our comprehensive e-book.