Brand influencers are common across social media. Assorted Kardashian family members, YouTube house partiers and makeup-wielding Instagrammers talk about the brands and products they use in everyday life—tagged with a #sponsored or #ad hashtag.
However, that’s more difficult in the pharma-to-patient world, in which patient influencers have smaller audiences along with healthcare regulatory rules to follow.
WeGo Health wants to change that with a new service to connect the right patient influencers with pharma companies' needs. The influencer marketing platform will co-create social media content such as posts, images and videos, which the patient influencer will then post as sponsored content on their personal social channels. While WeGo Health has worked with patients and pharma on similar efforts for 10 years, the resulting content was always posted on its own social channels.
WeGo came up with the platform in part because pharma companies need it, said Richelle Horn, WeGo Health’s senior director of marketing.
In an April survey of 150 of its patient leaders about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients told WeGo Health that their communities were their No. 1 source of information, while pharma companies ranked dead last at No. 7, garnering only 3% of votes. Overall, patient leaders gave pharma companies a very average “C” grade for patient centricity and overall response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Influencer marketing for pharmaceuticals and serious diseases is completely different (than consumer influencer marketing)—patient influencers are not for sale at any price, and it’s been a long process for pharma to build trust one influencer at a time,” Horn said.
WeGo will help bridge that trust gap, but it will also use its pharma marketing experience to make sure any content meets legal and regulatory healthcare guidelines. Its goal is to scale up the many nano- and micro-influencers found across health conditions and translate them into a larger overall engagement for pharma.
“What we like about it is that our campaigns can continue beyond a ‘one and done’ typical experience patients told us they often have,” Horn said. “We facilitate the connections, but also grow partnerships between patient and pharma, which is really our mission at its core.”