Influencer marketing in pharma: the tactic, challenges, and examples

The behavior of people in need of advice related to a health condition has totally changed in recent years. Research shows that 60% of people in the United States search for health information online, whether on search engines, Wikipedia or even social media, instead of calling doctors or visiting them. And whatever the way you may see this, it holds great opportunities and great challenges.

Pharmaceutical information, as a part of health information, opens the door for pharmaceutical entities to compete on reaching patients searching online and building their brands using every possible digital marketing tactic, even the tactic that some way can be expected to be not appropriate for marketing for pharmaceutical products like influencer marketing.


What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing involves working with people with many followers on social media platforms (known as an influencer) to market for a certain product. The influencer usually creates content that shows the product in a way or another.

This marketing tactic has worked and shown great results, especially when brands choose influencers of a certain niche that people trust what he tells about it. The advice received from an influencer is believed to be even more powerful than those which come from web pages or TV ads.

Challenges of pharma influencer marketing

Healthcare products are clearly not like the other ones when it comes to marketing. And with influencer marketing, it is even more complicated. The posts created by influencers to market for pharma products are subject to guidelines set by laws and authorities.

For example, the Federal Trade Commission in the united states obligates these type of posts to include a reveal of the connection between the influencer and the brand, which can be done by revealing that this is an advertisement in any way. Laws also obligate pharma brands to show the benefits of the drug in a balanced way, which is another challenge.

Ignoring the guidelines is not a good idea at all, and this was already proven. In 2015, famous Kim Kardashian published a post of a drug called Diclegis, a medication used for morning sickness, without mentioning its risks and side effects.

That didn’t pass in any way as the FDA warned the drug manufacturer which made Kardashian delete the post quickly. Later, a corrective ad was published by her mentioning the risks and side effects of the drug.


An example of effective influencer marketing

While the Kardashian example focuses on the challenges, there are other influencer marketing campaigns that successfully managed to generate great results for huge firms.

Novartis, for example, partnered with Queen Latifah to market for its heart failure treatment drug Entresto. Through a Facebook Live video, the discussion that went live on World Heart Day was watched by more than a thousand people live. Queen Latifah’s mother suffered from heart failure, and the campaign was totally well executed.

Allergan has also executed another excellent influencer marketing campaign for its See America program. The campaign was executed in partnership with football player Victor Cruz and actor Alexandra Daddario.

See America program targeted reducing preventable blindness and the influencer marketing campaign encouraged people to take snaps of their eyes and share it with a donation of 10 dollars to the American Foundation for the Blind with every shared photo.

Influencer marketing can be very effective for marketing for pharma products and healthcare-related causes. Yet it needs hard work and creativity to execute and overcome the challenges. As an essential marketing tactic nowadays, influencer marketing can be also promising for pharma marketing.


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