How Can MSLs Utilize the Influence of Digital Opinion Leaders?
Engaging with Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) benefits Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) in specific contexts. DOLs have a significant following on social media and are considered experts in their fields (e.g., cardiovascular therapies, cancer screening technology, gastrointestinal diseases, drug testing, and patient care). There can be a crossover with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), typically physicians, nurses, researchers, clinicians, and scientists; however, DOLs can be anyone, including pharmacists, researchers, patients, caregivers, journalists, science and health writers, and others. The professional credentials and credibility of DOLs lend validity and legitimacy to their social media content.
When Medical Science Liaisons circulate their organization’s research findings, breakthroughs, clinical trial recruitment programs, and product benefits amongst DOLs who educate and dialogue with their followers, the information’s visibility multiplies. DOLs amplify an MSL’s message by sharing findings with their diversified audiences, which may have been challenging to reach without social media. When public perception and understanding are necessary (e.g., public health), the rapid disbursement of information can be critical.
In addition to magnifying an MSL’s message, a DOL promotes science communications by encouraging followers to engage with MSLs, asking questions, sharing thoughts, and expressing opinions. DOLs have a way of shrinking information down to bitesize chunks. This quality alone makes DOLs great partners for targeted medical education. DOLs can help bridge the gap between MSLs and their organizations and the public—they make scientific information more accessible and engaging.
DOLs can also advocate for science by speaking out in support of an organization’s research and funding. They can help build trust in organizations and increase support for scientific initiatives. Engaging DOLs isn’t a frivolous fad. Social media mentions improve awareness of new data and treatment changes in the medical community.
How to Involve DOLs
- Invite DOLs to sit on your advisory board. They can offer a unique perspective and walk away with shareable bits of conversation.
- Ask DOLs to participate in education-based online meetings, videos, and podcasts. It’s a win-win for the DOLs and your organization. They’ll invite their followers to participate, and the interactions can help your organization learn about unmet needs, research areas to explore, answer questions, and more.
- During conferences, participate together in educational sessions that can be “live-shared” on various social media platforms.
- Create a virtual portal where your DOLs can extract information to share and discuss on their social media feeds. Provide some guidelines for sharing the content.
Leverage DOLs for the Dissemination of Knowledge
Engage DOLs now. You’ll gain a more relevant and keen understanding of a community when you combine KOLs and DOLs for insight-gathering. Also, leveraging both for the spread of intelligence and education will lead to a broader and deeper reach than would be possible if you only engage one or the other.