The dynamics of communication have changed—we no longer live in a world restricted by physical boundaries or presence. We no longer consume all of our information in paper format. We rely increasingly on digital media as a key information source. In order to communicate “face-to-face,” we no longer need to physically be face-to-face; we can use technology to have live video conferencing.
In this brave new world, we also need to look at how the dynamics of interpersonal interaction have changed. We need to understand that engaging with key opinion leaders (KOLs) no longer needs to happen only offline. We also need to understand that there is a new source of opinion leadership online being driven by key online influencers (KOIs). These KOIs are individuals or groups who share relevant content and information that influences others in a significant way.
Engaging with these KOLs and KOIs online enables us to reach a broader audience, more cost-effectively and more quickly. Given that many people, including doctors and KOLs, use the Internet as a key information point—ensuring information is available in the right digital format and in the right digital location—is increasingly important if you want them to see your information.
However there is now so much information online that you also need to concentrate on making sure that your information actually gets seen. This is where working with KOIs, and digitally active KOLs, plays a role. Information shared by them will have a far broader reach and higher credibility, therefore increasingly the likelihood of being seen.
This greater reach also increases the cost-effectiveness and ROI for the content. Compare, for example, the cost of a paper brochure that a rep leaves with a physician, only for the physician to throw it away once the rep has gone, to an infographic that a KOI shares with his or her 10,000 followers, 1,000 of whom then share it with their respective networks, reaching a further 5,000 people, and so on.
Relying entirely on offline engagement in this day and age makes no sense. It costs more, takes longer and is less effective. In a day when budgets are tightening, why then focus only on a less effective and less popular format? Answering that this is the way you have always done it simply does hold up anymore—it is time to start engaging with stakeholders online and join the brave new world.