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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 (KOL). Two primary responsibilities of Medical Affairs are sharing data with KOLs to help them make better treatment decisions and gathering KOL insights to improve the company strategy. Today, social media has created a new opportunity for Medical Affairs to meet these objectives.

An independent study of over 50,000 Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) conducted by Acceleration Point, found that KOLs are increasing their scientific discussion on social media. In fact, of 54% of these KOLs were involved in scientific discussions or articles across social media, the news, and on the web.  Additionally, 18% of these KOLs have accounts on Twitter with an average of 2,200 followers.  Over 25% of these followers are identified as fellow healthcare professionals (HCP).

Monitoring scientific mentions of KOLs on these 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 HCPs with an online audience on a social media platform such as Twitter. DOLs are often credentialed experts who are discussing science online with a significant and relevant population.

Many in Medical Affairs are just starting to see the importance of DOLs. Their reach shows that DOL online influence is staggering. The Acceleration Point study found most have between 30 and 50 true Global DOLs. Certain areas have significantly more DOLs such as oncology and cardiology.

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 Health Care Practitioner Followers

Understanding the composition of a DOL’s audience is also important, particularly the number of HCPs. Ideally, a DOL’s audience will consist of 25% or more HCPs.  To evaluate a 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 to determine the number of HCPs following each DOL.

Number of Relevant Topic Mentions

DOLs can post their own original content, share content created by others, or do some combination of the two. Some of a DOL’s content should be relevant to your therapeutic area, indication, company, or product. After all, it only matters how many people they can reach if they’re sharing content relevant to your scientific topics of interest!

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.

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 weed through the noise to identify new DOLs and relevant scientific discussions involving your existing KOLs? Acceleration Point has the tools, the strategy, and the expertise to help navigate you through the new world of digital KOL engagement. Contact us today to start gaining new insights about your KOLs and potential new DOLs!