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The Simplest Way to Strategically Map Digital Thought Leaders  

Apr 28, 2021

If you’ve read our piece on the five steps to efficiently monitor thought leaders on social media, you’ve probably begun doing just that. At the very least, you’ve had internal discussions about expanding key opinion leader engagement strategies to include their digital counterparts. Digital thought leaders may not be publishing and presenting in the traditional forums, but they’ve attracted attention from other healthcare practitioners (HCP) in their therapeutic area. 

This presents an interesting challenge. The world’s information is one google away. So are medicine’s thought leaders. Thousands upon thousands of board-certified physicians are on Twitter, for example, and can be found in a split-second search. Their collective audience of peers numbers in the hundreds of thousands, even millions. And that’s just one social media app! 

You can find our guidance on compiling a large list of digital thought leaders (DTLs) here. But then you’ll wonder what to do with that list. Choosing relevant thought leaders to engage may feel like searching for a needle in a haystack that keeps getting bigger. 

Some DTLs post general content for their audience, and some are very specific and aligned with your medical plan for opinion leader engagement. You will also see DTLs with low follower counts and others with high follower counts. Having such a diverse group of DTLs is inevitable and beneficial, but your list also has to be managed to be put to good use. Instead of analyzing each DTL one by one, map them into categories. 

Mapping DTLs allows you to narrow your focus so you can choose the individuals to engage at the right time. We recommend breaking down your list of DTLs into the following four categories. (For reference, “owned content” refers to content authored by the opinion leader.) 

High HCP Followers / Low Relevant Owned Content 

These DTLs have a relevant audience with the potential for engaging them in a scientific dialog. We recommend that Medical Affairs creates opportunities for assisting the DTL in online scientific dissemination. 

High HCP Followers / High Relevant Owned Content  

Prioritize these DTLs by engaging them as you would any traditional opinion leader. Ensure they are educated on key scientific topics that their audience would be interested in learning more about. 

Low Relevant Owned Content / Low HCP followers 

These thought leaders in the making are not typically discussing relevant science with relevant followers, so they’re not helpful when it comes to disseminating science. Simply monitor them as potential rising stars—if at all. 

High Relevant Owned Content / Low HCP Followers 

These influencers are high-potential and can benefit from opportunities to expand their social network. 

Once you’ve mapped the DTLs you’d like to monitor, consider those with high HCP followers and high relevance top priority. Monitor those who are highly relevant with fewer followers for future consideration. Dedicate the least attention to those with low relevance and few followers right now. This mapping structure will save your team immense time and ensure you’re engaging with the right thought leaders. 

Next, we recommend profiling each thought leader so you’re able to offer the most relevant engagement opportunity to the right person at the right time. 

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