Patient “opinion leaders” or “thought leaders” are often leveraged as an amplifier of messages around a specific indication on behalf of pharma companies. Not only do these individuals develop and build their own following, but are often seen as experts in the management of a condition. Patients turn to these leaders for advice and resources in areas of disease management that patients may not be getting adequate support in from their physicians.

This particular case study described how GSK mobilized multiple patient opinion leaders to rally engagement online around the treatments and management of the most common form of lupus (SLE), an autoimmune disorder that disproportionately affects minorities. These efforts were supported by social media promotion campaign with the specific goal of getting a new symptoms reference kit into the hands of lupus patients, while generating marketable CRM database leads.

The patient opinion leaders participating in this campaign were unique and had very different communication styles. This was by design, and allowed for a more unified message to reach more SLE patients across the country. 

Standard digital engagement metrics were tracked before, during and after the campaign (e.g., clicks likes, shares, follows, comments). Unique hashtags were developed and tracked via social listening throughout the program. Future activities are slated which include in-person events and local support options designed to increase engagement patients are having around the management of their lupus.

This case study demonstrated the importance of having a thoughtful approach to the utilization of patient opinion leaders in pharma advertising. Lupus is the perfect type of indication to leverage such messaging support. It is high prevalence, with a very digital-savvy patient population. Through this program GSK was able to mobilize the trust in patient influencers into a collective movement to increase engagement around one of their key therapeutic areas. This enhanced the connection GSK has been developing with the patients they treat, and will support insight generation and future marketing efforts in SLE.

About the Author:

Michael leads digital patient engagement activities within Syneos Health’s Digital & Social Strategy team. He has over 14 years of experience in digital research methodologies and online data collection. He supports advertising program design, strategic direction and technical strategy to execute and optimize digital patient recruitment campaigns.