When preparing your digital thought leader (DTL) engagement plan, expect uncertainty. Specific questions you’ll encounter vary based on your organization’s unique programs, policies, and mission. Nevertheless, there are ten questions we hear over and over from Medical Affairs leaders as they prepare their teams for DTL engagement.
Here are those questions along with our answers, which we’ve never shared publicly before. Enjoy!
1. “If choosing between two DTLs where one is active on Twitter and the other on LinkedIn, who should I collaborate with and for what purpose?”
There are different strengths to engaging through each social platform. LinkedIn provides a venue for disseminating long-form content, and Twitter often leads to a much larger audience with more direct content. Choose based on your objectives.
2. “Once I have identified a DTL, how do I engage them?”
The rules of engagement are the same as with other healthcare practitioners (HCP) and traditional key opinion leaders (KOLs). Do not engage the DTL through social media initially. Find common ground and meet there. Start by building trust. Your Medical Science Liaisons know what to do.
3. “What needs to be considered when engaging with DTLs vs. traditional KOLs?”
DTLs may not have as much experience engaging Medical Affairs, so you may need to explain what the purpose of the relationship is. Be clear on what you would like to accomplish through the relationship and how you can add value to the DTL.
(Always check with your local legal and compliance teams to understand your local requirements for engagement.)
4. “Would selection criteria or threshold differ from HCPs that are pure DTLs vs. hybrid DTL/KOLs?”
All DTL/KOL selection serves the purpose of prioritization. Assess the overall influence of the experts you have the capacity to engage with and align them to your strategy. Traditional KOLs come with established credibility, so their influence will be weighted more heavily in the social space.
5. “What metrics can be used to measure success of DTL engagement?”
As with all other engagements, have a clear strategic objective to measure. This may be the education of community HCPs, Share of Scientific Voice, or development of new content. Whatever it is, make it specific and measurable.
6. “How do we rank DTLs?”
Rank DTLs into categories based on reach, relevance, and scientific volume. From there, you can further narrow your lists by evaluating which DTLs align with your current requirements.
7. “How do we manage the potential risk of DTL engagement?”
DTL engagement is no riskier than collaborating with traditional thought leaders. Once you have identified your DTL, they become part of your broader KOL engagement strategy and should be managed exactly the same way you would a traditional KOL.
8. “Should we engage differently with pure DTLs vs. hybrid DTL/KOLs?”
Digital thought leaders have a different platform than hybrid thought leaders, leverage them for these specific digital activities.
9. “What are the legal/compliance considerations when engaging with DTLs? What can we contract them for?”
Although these DTL are somewhat different from traditional thought leaders your legal and compliance challenges are the same. Engage, contract, and manage the relationship in the same way you would a traditional thought leader. Work with your compliance lead on rules of engagement in social media.
10. “Considering resource constraints, how can we compare the influence of DTLs versus classical KOLs? Any way to make this comparable?”
Categorizing and prioritizing DTL gets you to a small enough group that you can evaluate the group individually using factors such as their participation committees or societies, their scientific interest, ease of working with them, and alignment to your scientific message. You can use platforms like ours or use free tools to manage DTL lists, bringing the ones that are the closest match to the forefront. We recommend Followerwonk as well as Twitter’s advanced search features.
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