Influencer marketing continues to prove its place in every brand’s marketing strategy, but given the unique legal and regulatory realities that MedTech marketers face, it can feel like the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. Navigating these waters over the last 10 years for our healthcare clients, we have learned the “smart” way to approach influencer partnerships to help even our most conservative clients leverage the power of this critical marketing channel, especially when it comes to bringing disruptive medical innovations to market.
From macro to nano influencer relationships to robust always-on programming to specific campaign launches and content partnerships—influencer marketing can be a powerful tool in a MedTech marketers toolbox.
Here are Five Benefits to Doing Influencer Partnerships the #SmartyWay:
- Increased reach to relevant audiences: Influencers bring their audience with shared interests to your brand. A successful partnership will lean into their voice to educate, validate and bring credibility to your product or procedure.
- Relatable content: An Influencer’s greatest value can be utilizing them as a content creator to deliver real, human, and on-trend assets that can be leveraged across your digital channels.
- Improved paid performance: Influencers are among the best-performing content when used properly in paid campaigns. We integrate influencer content into ad creative as well as execute specific whitelisting campaigns to get the most out of our clients’ influencer investment.
- Deeper engagement: Marketing in a highly regulated industry, medical device, and pharmaceutical brands bear the burden of required monitoring and response protocols to safely execute an influencer campaign as well as valuable opportunities to engage in a more meaningful way with patients around health-related topics. A well-trained social customer experience team can help a regulated company remain compliant, but also proactively engage with an influencer’s followers to answer questions, capture social proof (user-generated content), and connect patients to resources as they are considering a particular treatment.
- Move the “silent watcher:” Research shows a third-party opinion matters most to the “silent watchers.” The silent watchers are people who have heard of or have seen your brand and have given it a brief thought but have not taken actionable steps toward purchasing or experiencing the full offering of your product or service. Bringing in an influencer to speak on behalf of your brand can be a powerful force in taking the next step and turning interest into action.
Foundational Steps to Influencer Marketing in MedTech
For MedTech marketers, influencer programming comes with added considerations. The regulatory environment requires that you have monitoring in place across any sponsored influencer content as well as take greater care and responsibility in how influencers communicate their opinions and experience.
As an agency that built its foundation on some of the first influencer campaigns for med device brands more than a decade ago, Smarty has developed important smart strategies for navigating our clients through influencer programming.
- Legal and regulatory alignment: Influencer success cannot happen without the understanding and support of internal stakeholders. Start with a clear brief that acknowledges the key areas of regulatory guidance and plans to mitigate risk. Then meet with key players to work through the specific guardrails for your brand. The reality is that FDA and FTC guidelines are interpreted differently by each client and their risk profile, so having these discussions early is critical for all involved.
- Clear monitoring and issue protocol: Monitoring all influencer posts and comments is non-negotiable, but having clear workflows for when an issue is uncovered is the real key to protecting the company. These protocols should be included in every influencer’s contract, leaving no room for misinterpretation and responsibility for how they should or should not respond to comments or questions. Prepared Q&As along with clear guardrails for engaging with followers, should be established.
- Content review process: Legal review and approval of influencer content are non-negotiable in a regulatory environment. The key to avoiding roadblocks is clearly defined messaging and approved do’s and don’ts, agreed-upon timeframes for review and feedback, and an understanding of legal feedback versus influencer style and tone (which is a significant part of influencer value you want to preserve).
- Influencer agreement and brief: Transparent communication and clear direction are necessary to produce a positive end result that everyone can be excited about. The influencer must be willing to accept that working with a MedTech brand is different from promoting unregulated products. The brand must consider and address areas of legal and regulatory concern. These details need to be captured and agreed upon in the influencer agreement and brief that directs the content deliverables.
Starting and Scaling with Influencers
One of the first questions from clients considering an influencer program is — What does this cost and what am I going to get for it?
There is a common misconception that influencer marketing is an expensive initiative to incorporate into your marketing plan. The truth is, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Influencer marketing is an area of marketing that can be easily scaled.
A good rule of thumb is to earmark 10-20% of your marketing budget to influencers. Regardless of your budget, there is a wide range of influencer options available. The key is to work with a partner that understands your overall marketing goals, budget, and the full landscape of influencer opportunities.
Smarty partners with a robust roster of micro-influencers and has developed programming at every level, from celebrities to nano-influencers. Our influencer marketing team understands how to find the right fit for each brand and has a special knack for smart partnerships that deliver measurable value.
Unsure about the value of influencer marketing? Check out this article from Influencer Marketing Hub highlighting some top 2023 influencer marketing statistics to help drive your strategy.
Ready to tap into influencer marketing for your brand? We’re here to help!