Finding the right influencers can feel like looking for needles in a haystack. However, the best place to start is by identifying whether existing brand evangelists are also social media influencers. This approach will bolster authenticity, helping the campaign to perform well.

For example, to engage healthcare professionals, look at high prescribers. For health tech, check out top active users. And, of course, leverage existing satisfied patients — especially celebrities. This is going to be much easier than engaging influencers/celebrities with the health condition, whilst secretly praying that their involvement in the campaign will eventually lead to them becoming a patient.

What do you do if your brand evangelists have small followings and limited engagement on social media? Then, it’s time to research the other way around. Identify a list of influencers you wish were users of the company/brand.

It’s important to remember that since you’re engaging influencers to raise awareness or drive preference for a company/brand, their follower demographics should resemble your key target audiences. Even if the influencer is a brand evangelist or seems like an ideal fit, if their audience is not your audience, then that doesn’t really work, does it? That is, unless the entire plan is to rely on a paid activation to reach target audiences. However, that seems like a bit of a waste if you’re already paying for their organic reach, right?

Influencer Costs for Healthcare/Pharma

Firstly, if you can only afford a mix of nano and micro influencers, don’t bother exploring macro and mega influencers. There’s no point spending a lot of time looking at Prada when you know you’re going to be buying Calvin Klein.

It’s important to keep in mind that influencer costs are driven by a number of factors including what type of influencer they are (healthcare provider, momfluencer, skinfluencer, patient, celebrity, etc). Below is a rough fee guide from our experience for the promotion of prescription products in the U.S. Healthcare provider fee bands are generally dictated by compliance (i.e. fair market value). However, in our experience they are lower for prescription vs. over-the-counter treatments. From a patient perspective, it varies greatly from other industries because we’re asking someone to be vulnerable by sharing their personal experience with a health condition and/or treatment.

Healthcare_Pharma Influencer Costs

With that said, don’t be afraid to negotiate, but focus on value (e.g. an additional post, content upgrade (i.e. video vs. static), cross posting to another platform, free boosting privileges, etc.) vs trying to haggle for a lower fee. After all, you don’t want the influencer feeling like they’re not getting paid their worth before the project even gets going. Also, it’s not recommended to negotiate big packages right out of the gate, just in case the first post or two doesn’t do well (or as well as expected). It will be far easier to expand an influencer’s scope by extending their contract, than it will be to reduce an existing scope, which is bound to cause hard feelings.

How to Vet Influencers

Now that you know which influencers you’re keen on, it’s time to check that they’re the right fit for the company/ brand (e.g. values, tone, etc.), are genuine (e.g. don’t buy followers/ engagement, participate in pods*, etc.) and have the right follower demographics to achieve the campaign’s objectives.

* Influencer pods are essentially groups of chancers who agree to engage with each other’s content to artificially increase engagement, build their audience and fight the algorithm, to attract paid opportunities.

Before diving into how to vet influencers and which data to evaluate, let’s chat for a minute about how to organise the information. Yep, we know — total yawn, but hear us out. The most streamlined way is to use an influencer marketing web app tool to track influencers of interest (and those that you’ve considered but are not pursuing). This way, baseline information is automatically populated and observations can be layered on top in the notes section of each influencer’s profile. Alternatively, limited baseline information can be exported as a comma-separated values file (.csv) and additional details from the tool and observations can be manually layered on top to create a full offline record.

If only influencers of interest are tracked, then there’s no record of who was researched which will inevitably lead to repeating the work if additional influencers need to be vetted mid-campaign or for the next campaign. Influencer tools should enable tag creation so profiles can be categorised accordingly e.g. priority fit, fit, not a fit, blacklisted.

After reviewing multiple influencer marketing tools, PR-it decided to use Klear because it’s an open database, pulling data from all business creator accounts. Other tools we evaluated were curated databases which felt limiting. Klear can be used to discover, vet and manage influencers in addition to tracking performance. PR-it predominantly discovers influencers through high prescriber/top user lists, articles or talent agents (Yep! Even doctors have agents these days!).

As previously mentioned, the quickest way to vet influencers is to add tags and notes (manual analysis – see below) to influencer profiles within Klear. As you can see below, most of the data you need to review about each influencer is already contained in the tool, but doesn’t easily export as a spreadsheet.

Healthcare_Pharma Influencer Vetting Criteria

When presenting influencer recommendations, it may be unwieldy to present from Klear (or whatever tool you’re using), so try creating slides or a one-page easy-to-digest spreadsheet to display and/or compare key details between influencers. This document can then be evolved as a campaign status report.

The last step of vetting is to see if the influencer wants to collaborate. The fact is, you’re going to get better results if the company/brand can be disclosed. To that end, it’s best to secure MLR (medical, legal, regulatory) approval of a template outreach email/direct message that can be tailored to reference an influencer’s recent posts/partnerships (so your message doesn’t come off spammy). Think of reaching out to influencers like pitching for earned media. The same principles apply. Keep the note really short, thoughtful, highly personalised and with a clear request.

If possible, engage target influencers (through the company/brand handle) a couple weeks before direct outreach by following and liking/sharing relevant high-quality content. This will help warm them up so your email or direct message doesn’t appear to be coming out of left field (especially if they are not already a brand evangelist).

While we’ve been pretty lucky in that the majority of influencers respond whether they’re interested or not, don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back from some of them. Also, since some of the influencers are bound to drop out of the campaign after showing initial interest, it’s best to reach out to a few more influencers than needed and gather costs.

And lastly, watch this space, more influencer marketing-focused articles coming soon!