Untapped Potential of Creator Marketing in Healthcare

Gone are the days when healthcare as an industry sold itself. It was much easier before the rise of the digital age (mid-1990s) to drum up business as a healthcare practitioner (HCP) because of the core benefit of saving lives. Now, it’s a lot harder for healthcare companies to convince consumers to try out their services because of the hefty competition in this space.

A few subsets of healthcare have risen in popularity in the past two years. Some of them include telehealth and remote monitoring, but there’s one issue in this case—the lack of credibility. With more digital health services popping up every day, it’s a challenge for consumers to decide whose service to use. For example, telehealth services have gone up 38 times compared to pre-pandemic numbers but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the go-to service in that space. 

Healthcare marketers have had to get creative to ensure that their business stays afloat—leading to the rise of creator marketing. Creator marketing is not your usual run-of-the-mill influencer marketing. It’s more of the Dr. Fauci kind and not the Kim K kind.

Let’s discuss the nuances of creator marketing, how it’s driving the economy of a trillion-dollar industry, and examples of healthcare brands that are already leveraging its use.

What is Creator Marketing?

Creator marketing results from the creator economy where passion and creativity fuel livelihoods. Creators are people who create content on popular social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn. They’ve built a sizable audience through their content, resulting in a tight-knit community. 

These creators are not popular because of their celebrity status but for the content they create and how well they stand out in their niche. Brands have leveraged such creator communities to market their products and services without having to prime an audience of their own. What’s brilliant is that creators worldwide can monetize their passion and creativity. It’s a win-win for both sides!

Influencer Marketing Hub

Unlike the typical influencer marketing strategy, the focus is not on audience size but rather the niche of the creator. In a 2022 State of Marketing Report, 70% of surveyed brands indicated that they’d like to focus on nano (5,000 to 20,000 followers) and micro (20,000 to 60,000 followers) influencers instead; the barrier to entry as a creator is a lot smaller. Brands can leverage the creator’s audience along with a low cost per engagement rate. 

Suppose your company offers dietary supplements for joint health. In that case, you will work with creators such as scientists studying joint health, orthopedists, and sports medicine professionals.

You get to market your product to a very niche and primed audience, and the creator gets compensated for the effort they’ve put in to build this community. But, in the healthcare industry, collaborating with creators could be a tricky business. With the blatant spread of misinformation and lack of credibility in the space, consumers want to hear from credentialed experts or past customers—to access accurate information.

How Does It Work in the Healthcare Space?

Every single day, Google alone handles over 1 billion medical search queries. That’s a lot of hot real estate for healthcare companies. Despite that, most of these search results fail to provide the user with the right information. Either they’re biased or lack the depth and context required when discussing sensitive issues. 

Given the rise of misinformation during the pandemic, it’s not surprising that credibility or lack thereof is the most significant issue in healthcare marketing. 

One of the easiest ways to circumvent this issue is by collaborating with content creators in this space. When it comes to creator marketing, healthcare companies are playing catch up. Still, those already in the digital space are spearheading this movement such as telehealth and blockchain-based companies. 

In the 2021 State of Influencer Marketing Report, 96% of creators indicated that they’d love for their collaboration to go beyond the generic advertising that they do. They’d like to co-create with brands and help them offer meaningful solutions to their audience. This puts HCPs in a great position to be the brand ambassador of such companies.

But, There’s a Caveat

Of course, there’s always an if. Marketing in this space has its own doldrums because of the compliance standards that marketers need to follow. Let’s not forget that people’s lives are at stake at the end of the day. This is why all marketing campaigns are required to follow HIPAA compliance standards. 

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA is a set of regulations imposed by the United States government. The main intention behind these guidelines is that patient information must be kept protected at all times unless consent is given. There are 5 rules that brands need to follow, but the Privacy Rule is key in the marketing space. 

For example, if you’re running a social media campaign, you can’t share photos or information about your patients without their consent. That information comes under the coveted Protected Health Information (PHI) category and forbids any disclosure without consent.

It’s why most healthcare marketing campaigns act as a humble abode for stock pictures. The issue is that it prevents brands from creating credible and lasting relationships with their target audience. 

This is where healthcare content creators come into the picture, literally. They act as the best workaround by putting a face to the brand without dismissing credibility. Of course, you must follow regulatory standards even when you’re working with healthcare influencers. A few of them include:

  • USA — HIPAA, FDA & FTC guidelines
  • Australia — Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
  • UK — Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

Influencing Through Lived Experience

Healthcare content creators are of two types: healthcare practitioners and patient influencers. Both these groups have lived experiences, either dealing with or treating the condition. Here, you have the benefit of two perspectives—both of which you can leverage.

From the perspective of HCPs or digital opinion leaders, you can use their expertise to build credibility. It allows your target audience to view you as a knowledgeable brand in their space and backed by expertise. Many doctors have taken to popular social apps, TikTok and Instagram mostly, to curb the spread of misinformation. Brands can meet consumers with targeted and credible information—building brand trust.

But patient influencers are the real underdogs of the healthcare marketing world. A survey by Wego Health indicated that 93% of patient influencers tend to share what they know with their audience. Imagine a brand collaboration with them—it could create a ripple effect of credible information online.

Wego Health Survey 2021

Besides that, patient influencers have their own stories to tell, and as we all know, stories sell. They’re a great way to capture your audience’s attention and build brand awareness. 80% of Gen Z-ers tend to rely on peer recommendations for health advice—making this an excellent opportunity for marketers.

Social apps such as Facebook and Instagram have taken over traditional information channels such as blogs. Due to this growing trend, many people have already become primed to take health advice online. Many influencer networks have also launched in the past year, making it easier than ever to access these creators.

Wego Health Survey 2021

Successful Creator Marketing Campaigns in Healthcare

#1 WHO COVID-19 handwashing campaign

In the image below, Dr. Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO, talks about how simple things can make a massive difference. He demonstrates the 20-second hand washing routine, after which many influencers followed suit.

Dr. Ghebreyesus sharing the 20-second hand washing routine

Soon, the #SafeHands challenge took over the Internet and passed on to other social apps such as TikTok and YouTube. You can still find those posts today under the hashtags #StopTheSpread and #StayAtHome. It was a huge success, and to date, the hashtag has over 15,9000 Instagram posts.

Prominent digital opinion leaders such as Dr. Pramod Sawant took part in the #SafeHands challenge

#2 Care Pharma’s ‘Little Range’ launch

When Care Pharma was going to launch their new range of products for children, they knew they had to do something out of the box. 

A post talking about the child’s struggles with allergies

The brand set up a campaign where mothers and their children acted as their patient influencers. They spoke about their daily struggles and how these products help them solve those problems. The campaign gathered over 32K impressions and a 2% engagement rate.

#3 Snibbs’ brand launch

Considering the struggles of frontline workers, Snibbs, a footwear brand, partnered with HCPs, like medicine and nursing students, nurses, physicians, and surgeons, to launch their brand. They used incentives such as providing free pairs of Snibbs to nominated family and community members.

By giving back to the medical community, they struck a chord with their target audience. The campaign generated over $200K and 4M+ impressions on Instagram.

A podiatry student posing with Snibbs’ shoes 

Creator Marketing in Healthcare Drives Impact

Creator marketing is set to see a serious boost in 2022. Many HCPs are using social media to establish their expertise. Working with them could give your brand a better ROI for your marketing campaigns and establish trust and awareness—driving higher impact.

About the Author

Tanaaz Khan is a freelance writer specializing in blog content for Health & Tech brands. She’s on a mission to turn dull technical content into engaging and value-driven narratives for her readers. You can follow her on Twitter (@tanaazkhan_) for musings on writing, freelancing, and science communication.