Key Social Opinion Leaders (KSOLs) – The New Inside Influence

Issue 1 2017

"Key Social Opinion Leaders (KSOLs) – The New Inside Influence"

“In 2017, sophisticated social media listening software is helping Pharma Marketers delve deep into the digital landscape to uncover the who’s, what’s and why’s of therapy-specific conversations – revealing a new crop of Key Social Opinion Leaders (KSOLs) whose unique perspectives present a new world of opportunity for brands both online and off…”

Pharma Marketers have long engaged traditional Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) for their leading influence in prescribing behaviour. But with a new era in social communications, new platforms for therapy-specific conversations take place, cross-pollenate and seed faster than ever before.


Take Twitter, for example, where as of January 6th 2017, 5,049 
conversations centered around cancer – as many as 2,386 of them lung cancer. On that same day, a staggering 5696 conversations took place about Melanoma – 90% within Australia. 


Quality Over Quantity

They may not have a mass following by social media standards, but KSOLs have self-selecting and therefore high-value audiences comprised of clinicians, academics and patients with direct therapy area experience. So it should come as no surprise that seeking them out isn’t as easy as running a simple #hashtag search…

Typically administered by communications agencies, social listening tools like ‘Sysomos’ are now advanced enough help us understand the scope, tone and key players in therapy-area based conversations, and ultimately ascertain a brand’s current standing in the mix.

Strategically, this gives Pharma Marketers the opportunity to make stronger, smarter and more informed decisions about marketing their brand in (at least) one of two ways:

Bolster Med-Ed Efforts

When a KSOL creates a relevant social footprint, Pharma Marketers can analyse their data (in real-time), and use it to communicate high-impact messaging into their brand teams, field sales reps and Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) – effectively ‘filling the gaps’ in knowledge as conversations begin to take hold, and creating stronger foundations from the bottom up.

CSR / Disease State Awareness

Once identified, Pharma Marketers can engage KSOLs directly in a social media led CSR or disease state awareness initiatives that leverage the unique perspectives, insights and influence of the KSOL, ideally on their social platform of choice. Alternatively, depending on the therapy area (amongst a host of other factors), a strategic mix or partnership of traditional KOLs and KSOLs could be engaged to reach the right audiences with the right information at the right time.

It’s no surprise that Pharma marketers are desperate to gain insight into how their treatment, brand or company sits in the context of their respective therapy areas, and in the hearts and minds of their most valuable audiences. By recognising social media’s incredible platform for facilitating conversation and applying a more scientific approach to seeking out the key players therein, pharma marketers can more effectively scale and bolster their medical education and/or disease awareness efforts to shape conversations to their competitive advantage.


We are always interested in hearing from great people dedicated to making a career in pharmaceutical communications. If you’re ready to make a positive impact with Bastion Brands, get in touch today.