Measuring social media influence in healthcare

In yesterday’s blog on social media measurement we alluded to the notion of influence in social media. Influence can be measured in many ways and means many different things to different people. How you define it and what criteria you use ultimately stems from the business need to measure influence.

At Kantar Media we have done a lot of work around the theme of influence, more specifically in the pharmaceutical sector.

As pharmaceutical companies become more patient-centric there is a growing business need to understand who the influential e-patients are, what they think and how large pharma companies can integrate their voice into their organisations. Our previous blog around this - Are empowered patients influencing doctors today? -  demonstrated how the internet and more recently social media has empowered patients, transforming them into a customer, who has the power to influence doctors’ actions, therefore justifying the need to truly understand them.

An example of this was our work to identify the most influential e-patients for a particular chronic condition. Our client, from the Patient Advocacy team, wanted to develop a symbiotic relationship with a small group of highly influential individuals. Prior to identifying these influencers it was very important to get buy in from the client on our criteria and methodology. Our criteria focused on Reach, Relevance, Resonance and Activity. By looking across a wide range of platforms, and applying a variety of research techniques including qualitative, desk, network and engagement research, we were able to identify 40 influential e-patients. We prepared a detailed biog for each patient for the client to get to know these individuals, recommending that our client engage with the top 10. Identifying individuals, and being able to follow their activity thereafter, makes measuring the success for any future campaign easier and more tangible, for instance you will know whether they have engaged with your content by sharing or commenting on it.

The criteria and methods used for the healthcare sector can be adapted for other sectors. The key is to agree upfront on the ‘how’, the ‘how many’, the ‘why’ you need to know influencers and what you are going to do once you know who they are. Remember, the closer social media researchers are to business needs, the more actionable the research and measurement becomes.



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