Intersection of key opinion leaders, advocacy and social media

The life science industry is on a never-ending quest to engage the right stakeholder network. Most healthcare executives already realize the need for identifying and mapping clinical key opinion leaders (KOLs). Yet many miss that this is only a small piece of the integrated network that is critical to engage. In fact, extra value can come from a well-structured analysis of the KOLs PLUS advocacy groups, and patient social media influencers (patient KOL [PKOLs]). Each offer unique perspectives that can define a successful launch strategy. 

KOLs, advocacy groups and PKOLs in and of themselves, are critical for the commercialization of life science products. But it is the integration of these entities that is the key. Technology has made the world accessible and connected which makes this feat less daunting and allows diverse insights to be gathered, categorized and acted upon.  

Are you leveraging this convergence in your commercialization planning?

To bring this concept to life, we highlight an example that depicts the inter-connectivity between KOLs, advocacy groups, and  and PKOLs. For example, we were charged with understanding the overall advocacy landscape for kidney disease. A scorched-earth approach was used to find the groups that would bring these various perspectives together while analyzing the alignment between each group and our client’s objectives. This was with respect to advocacy efforts, reimbursement, social media activity and influence, guidelines, consumer & professional education efforts, publications and of course, disease state interest. Additionally, building the network involved linking the key entities. 

It was of no surprise that dozens of organizations deal with renal disease in one form or another. This ranged from those with a broad focus such as the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) to more narrow such as the American Association of Kidney Patient (AAKP), and Renal Physicians Association (RPA). Vital to this analysis was determining the alignment between the advocacy organization’s goals with our client’s commercial interests.   

An even more significant realization is that bigger is not always better. Among the scores of mammoth societies and foundations, all with complex infrastructures, was a small one-person shop, led and managed by an individual who suffered with CKD. While this patient group was mini it is indeed quite mighty.This organization is also the epitome of the ideal stakeholder blend we describe in this post. The efforts of this single individual drove thousands of followers to the organization on social media. A slew of big-name clinical KOLs serve on her advisory board. She and her fellow patients (PKOLs) regularly testify before Congress and lead legislative and regulatory organizations regarding how policies related to reimbursement or other regulation impacts how they can live with their kidney disease. The organization also develops strong educational content for patients and would often opine a new product or treatment. 

Leveraging the inter-connectivity of professionals, patients, advocacy and the power of social media is key to a successful product strategy. Are you ready?

Snowfish is a strategy consulting company which for almost two decades, has been entrenched in the therapy industry. We are often called upon to help our clients think in new ways whether it is their approach to stakeholders, advocacy, and other critical areas. Please reach out to us at to learn more.   


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