5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Healthcare

NOTE: Updated February 2021 with a new case study!

In this digital age of the informed patient, healthcare companies need to find innovative ways to reach their various audiences.

One approach to find new connections is influencer marketing.

According to the Association of National Advertisers, 75% of advertisers in the U.S. make use of influencer marketing and, due to the success of it, 43% of them expect to increase their spending on it over the next 12 months.

Influencer marketing is defined as the ability for one person or campaign to sway the purchase decision of a customer or prospective customer.

Healthcare Influencer Marketing Works

Influencer marketing isn’t just for the beauty, retail, and fitness industries that typically come to mind. It can work in healthcare too.

The data proves this approach can be beneficial. According to Pew Research Center and PwC Health Research:

  • 35% of adults in the US have gone online specifically to “figure out” some medical condition.
  • 16% of internet users went online in the last year to find others who might share the same health concerns.
  • Nearly 90% of people in aged 18-24 (i.e., millennials) would trust health information or engage in health activities found on social media.

Finding individuals who are passionate about your company, organization, or product is key as people put more trust in user generated content than content created by a company or brand.

Healthcare influencers include everyone from healthcare professionals who are active online to celebrities who talk openly and frequently about their health (Source: Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development).

If you’re thinking about using influencer marketing but aren’t sure where to start, our list of top healthcare influencer marketing campaigns and why they work might help jumpstart your own campaign.

HealtheVoices’ Online Advocacy Community

HealtheVoices, an online health advocate and patient blogger community, was created by Johnson & Johnson in light of the lack of a network for online patient health activists.

The J&J team set out on a mission to do a better job of helping patients by creating HealtheVoices where they have access to online patient health advocates.

Today, it has grown from an online community to bringing health advocates and patient advocates together at an annual HealtheVoices conference.

These key stakeholders are critical to patients who are facing a terrifying diagnosis and doctors who want to understand their patients on a deeper level.

People put their faith in their network of doctors, pharmacists and other trusted individuals when it comes to their health and wellness.

In fact, a Gallup poll found that nurses are rated highest for honesty and ethics, with medical doctors and pharmacists close behind.

So, creating a space for patients with trusted health advocates in one place can help you move the needle in your own influencer marketing campaigns.

Teaming Up For Genentech’s #NotOneType

An influencer doesn’t have to be a single person, or a person at all. Take Genentech’s #NotOneType campaign as an example.

The biotech company teamed up with Giuliana Rancic, Living Beyond Breast Cancer and ThirdLove to take a closer look at breast cancer because “breast cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease.”

A website was launched to serve as the hub for educational information like breast cancer types, quick stats, and questions to ask.

A pop-up experience was also launched in SoHo, NYC to provide an opportunity for further engagement and education.

genentech influencer example

A Patient’s Perspective on Clinical Trials

An influencer might not be someone you seek out, but rather someone who comes across your radar because of their own efforts.

Jeri Burtchell is a perfect example.

She was part of the TRANSFORMS clinical trial conducted by Novartis to study Fingolimod for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Jeri chronicled the entire experience on her blog and focused on the patient experience when it comes to clinical trials.

What came next wasn’t exactly what she expected. Craig Lipset, Head of Clinical Trials at Pfizer, contacted Jeri for an interview because he was working on finding innovative approaches to traditional clinical trials.

From there, Jeri spoke at the Disruptive Innovations to Advance Clinical Trials conference in Boston and has been an advocate for improving the patient experience for those participating in clinical studies.

The lesson here is that you should always keep your eyes and ears open for trusted sources who are already sharing a message that converges with your initiative.

patient perspective

Chicago Hospital Deploys Community Ambassador Program

The community relations team at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago wanted to build deeper relationships with local schools, faith groups, cultural associations and other neighbourhood organizations.

But, they weren’t sure where to start until they realized an untapped resource: employees.

The hospital’s employees were the connection to each of these groups as valued contributors so empowering them to build the bridge between them and the hospital was a no-brainer.

Once they executed this community ambassador program, the results supported additional investment for complementary initiatives.

Ready. Raise. Rise Sparks Relatable Conversation About Immuno-oncology

When Bristol-Meyers Squibbs’ blockbuster immuno-oncology drug hit the market, people didn’t understand the science behind it and the promise it held for cancer patients.

Enter Ready. Raise.

Rise, a three-year campaign that enlisted relatable celebrities like Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, Tia Mowry of Sister Sister, and Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family. Each of these well-known figures shared their intimate stories of how cancer has affected them or a loved one.

“Earned media allows a celebrity or spokesperson to put the disease state or treatment into context in a way you can’t quite do with paid integration or branded coverage,” explains the lead of the medical specialist group at Chandler Chicco.

cancer research influence marketing

Healthcare companies who can engage patient communities and start a transparent dialogue are the ones who will rise above the rest.  

Thinking Outside The Penalty Box With Aurora Cannabis

Unlike traditional marketing, healthcare marketing often needs to work under a close microscope of rules and regulations.

If any industry has learned how to navigate this maze creatively it’s Canadian medical cannabis.

Aurora Cannabis, the second largest cannabis company in the world by market capitalization, has played the healthcare influencer game surprisingly well.

As conversations on the medical uses of cannabis became more commonplace, Aurora knew they needed to bring these discussions under their brand.

But because both Canadian medicine and cannabis have strict guidelines against many aspects of marketing, they needed to be clever through their use of partnerships to harness the power of influencer marketing while dodging scrutiny.

One world they wanted to tackle was the domain of sports.

Rather than working with influencers directly, which was cloaked in a legal grey area, Aurora instead hosted panels featuring mixed martial artists, former NHL players, and even Olympians, all discussing their use of cannabis in sports.

On a larger scale, Aurora even teamed up with the UFC® to research the benefits of hemp-derived CBD on athletes.

Since neither of these instances can be directly seen as “influencer marketing”, Aurora was able to gain the upper hand while navigating a regulatory minefield.

A study from Marketing Hub ranked influencer marketing at #1 for the fastest online customer-acquisition method, so what are you waiting for?

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