Identifying and Engaging Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) in the Life Sciences Industry

Identifying and Engaging Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) in the Life Sciences Industry

Our world is now hyper-connected to everything digital. Digital media is greatly influencing our economy, education, health care, communication, work culture, transportation, lifestyle, etc. Life sciences industries, too, are leveraging the power of digital media and the digital influence of DOLs to improve their brand visibility and optimize operational developments. 


In this article: 

Let us understand more about opinion leaders in digital media and their role in maximizing the efficiency of the life science industry.  

Who are Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs)

DOLs can be academic experts, researchers or healthcare professionals.


Digital Opinion Leaders, as the name suggests, are the digital experts who can influence a community in their field, which can be: education, health care, lifestyle, etc.            

Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) in the life science industry can be academic experts, researchers, community leaders, or healthcare professionals. They use online platforms to share information, provide and receive professional and peer assistance, and deepen their expertise. Moreover, these thought leaders have a great following on social media and influence a wider audience. 

How do DOLs impact the Life Sciences Industry?

Life sciences companies have witnessed significant development in recent years. COVID-19 expedited these developments even further. This led to various departments of the company, including the Medical Affairs department, to adapt to changing expectations.


Let's first look at the challenges faced by the life science industry, so it would be easy to understand DOLs extensively. 


  • Poor Data Accuracy
  • Reputation Management
  • Staying updated with trends
  • Clinical Trial phases
  • Marketing & Launch of products 
  • Low operational efficiency 

The above points denote that the life sciences industry historically relied on manual processes and did not prioritize operational strategies. They were also dependent on traditional KOLs to seek guidance in RnD, for identifying new trends, and promoting Rx brands. 

Later, in light of factors like the COVID pandemic, changing geopolitics, new therapeutic modalities, and new ways of working, pharma companies started re-evaluating their long-term strategies and began collaborating with DOLs. These opinion leaders became crucial for life sciences or pharma companies as they would provide consistent, expert solutions to the pharma or life science industry remotely. This enabled such companies to build their visibility on digital platforms. 


Impactful Digital Opinion Leaders among the Ocean of Leaders

Digital users get influenced very quickly by DOLs. That is because many Digital influencers, play a role as an information source and a voice of authority for their audiences. Followers form their opinions about these leaders based on various variables, including personal values, life circumstances, knowledge, experience, and social context. In addition, people are far more likely to consider how a subject is portrayed, shaping their opinion significantly.

DOLs are regarded as authoritative and influential and might play varied roles. Here are some significant characteristics of DOLs: 


Conversation Starter            
● DOLs can be a voice for pharma companies, helping them increase brand awareness. 

● They simplify healthcare topics and present them in a way that promotes better health outcomes for individuals.

● DOLs can help improve a brand's credibility and make it stand out from industry competitors.


Network Builder           
● DOLs have a strong network of healthcare professionals, specialization leaders, and academicians. 

● They develop novel ways to reach out to, approach, and influence their audiences. 



● A DOL can be a therapeutic expert who has treated numerous patients or performed successful surgeries.

● DOLs' followers could comprise patients who look forward to their posts and regularly engage with them. 


Strategic Leader           
● They help a brand improve its reputation by emphasizing its benefits or conveying its importance during a crisis.

● Digital opinion leaders are great marketing strategists who can help a new or existing brand to establish its foothold in the competitive market.  


Digital Journalist

● In this fast-paced world, DOLs prefer the audience to be informed about the subjects/ trends/ topics through their journal works.

● This helps to build trust and trade as a word-of-mouth recommendation. 


Opinion Leader

● DOLs can sway public opinion, which is what pharma or life science companies ultimately hope to achieve.


The Evolving Role of Digital Opinion Leaders in the Life Science Industry

DOLs can play various roles in a life sciences company

To determine the optimal role of DOLs, their commitment, involvement, and influential behavior can be assessed based on the provided criteria.

Digital Advisors

● DOLs take the advisor role by helping healthcare companies shortlist webinar topics, get their peers to participate in the online discussion, join in patient-centric events, or offer mentorship to medical students online.

● Life sciences or pharma companies could also consult DOLs to set their expectations of research, sales, and safety goals.


Digital Thought leaders

● DOLs can attract huge audiences through their digital presentations at medical conferences and events and can attract comments on novel treatments and disease management on social media.

● Life sciences companies can attract their audience through DOL experts, who have already made an excellent digital presence.



● DOLs are good trainers for medical or pharma teams. They can educate the group about top scientific trends and help in the smooth functioning of the system. 

● Life science companies can utilize the DOLs to keep the workforce updated on the latest trends in healthcare. 


Sales Leaders

● DOLs play an essential role as sales leaders. They collaborate with the sales team to channelize the sales strategies.



● DOLs, as healthcare professionals, influence their patients by discussing various healthcare topics. Companies can collaborate with them to promote nutraceutical products, medical devices, etc., among the target audience.

● Pharma companies can build their marketing strategies with DOLs and grow their brand through word-of-mouth marketing. 


The Different Types of Digital Opinion Leaders

The different types of digital opinion leaders


DOLs can be categorized based on their followers and digital presence, just like other social influencers. 

[The number of followers given below is for understanding purposes only]


Mega-Influencers(1M+ followers)

● Mega-influencers, with over a million followers, are well-known on digital media platforms because of their digital presence.

● They produce high engagement on digital media channels, which makes them stand out among competitors.


Macro-Influencers(100k - 1M followers)

● Macro-influencers have an audience of 100k to 1 million or more and can include opinion leaders with influencing personalities. 

● Pharma companies may expect better growth from DOLs because they can use their reputation to get followers on digital media.


Mid-Tier Influencers. ( 50k-100k followers)

● HCPs with a follower count ranging from 50K to 100K are termed Mid-tier influencers. They provide marketers with a broad reach and better engagement. 

● Their posts are authentic and focused on health-related trending content. However, their posting frequency may be inconsistent.


Micro-influencers (10K–50k followers)

● Marketers often engage micro-influencers as they are more effective in building engagement and trust.


Nano influencers (1K–10K followers)

● Nano-influencers have followers in the range of 1K-10K but they do offer marketers substantial reach and engagement. 

This category of DOLs creates authentic, tailored content for their audience.


DOLs can also be categorized based on their involvement


Monopolistic DOL

● When digital opinion leaders hold specialization in a single subject, they are classified as Monopolistic DOL.

● Monopolistic DOLs have specific areas of expertise, and their audience follows them as icon leaders in those domains.


Polymorphic DOL

● When digital opinion leaders have expertise in several subjects, they can be categorized as Polymorphic DOLs.

● Polymorphic DOLs influence huge audiences as they post on varied topics. Moreover, their content is also unique and impressive. 


The Top Qualities of a Successful Digital Opinion Leader

1. Choice of Topics

Some DOLs focus on general healthcare topics, while some focus on challenging situations such as diseases with higher relapse rates or patients receiving several lines of therapy. It will all depend on companies which DOLs they want to focus on for their engagement strategy. 

2. Early Evaluators

DOLs, as a part of their job, may participate in clinical trials and develop competence in a particular therapeutic discipline. Hence they may provide an early evaluation of the treatment, which could significantly impact studies. 

3. Trustworthy 

DOLs are transparent about any biases they may have and express well-reasoned, rational viewpoints with their colleagues. They always retain complete confidentiality with the industry and are open about their interactions with competitors.

4. Authentic

DOLs ensure the accuracy of their articles by verifying and validating information, and they communicate their ideas clearly. 

5. Authority

DOLs possess comprehensive knowledge of product and treatment options, which could enable them to establish themselves as thought leaders with specialized expertise in a specific field.

6. Clinical Trial Participation

DOL could occasionally serve as the Primary Investigator (PI) for a clinical trial or recommend patients for trial participation.

7. Network Centrality:

 DOLs, owing to their strong network, receive most patients through referrals from many HCPs.


Important things to consider when identifying Digital Opinion Leaders

A DOL should be industry relevant,  have active digital presence and good engagement


Some significant points to keep in mind while identifying DOLs: 


Questions to consider before engaging with DOLs:

  • What type of content do DOLs share?
  • What digital channels do they use to communicate with their followers?
  • In which digital channels are the DOLs more popular? 
  • Do they use social media platforms to communicate?
  • What language and tone do these DOLs typically use when engaging with the audience?
  • Are these DOLs known for being independent authors, or have they partnered with other brands?
  • Are DOLs affiliated with academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, hospital systems, or advocacy groups?
  • How many followers do DOLs have, and what is their average age?
  • Is the DOL more focused on a global or local audience?
  • What kind of reputation does the DOL have online? 

konectar Social: How can it help Your Company?

Artificial intelligence (AI) powered "konectar Social" can be used to identify & engage digital opinion leaders and gain insight into their social media engagements.


The time spent looking for digital opinion leaders can be significantly decreased by using "konectar social." In addition, it provides access to the details (name, location, stream, etc.) of DOLs and their body of work rather than just highlighting the most recent information.


Pharma companies can use this platform to derive relevant insights about DOLs' activities and make a comprehensive and impactful DOL engagement plan. They can engage DOLs to improve the team's interaction with critical stakeholders and streamline the workforce to speed up the discovery of new drugs.


AI-Powered "konectar Social" answers all your possible questions, such as:

  • Who are the researchers and doctors that are influencing their colleagues?
  • How can the company expand its local, national, and international reach?
  • How can patients' requirements, viewpoints, worries, and challenges be understood?
  • How can a novel drug be promoted to increase patients’ interest?
  • How can we effectively incorporate patient involvement in clinical trials while ensuring the reliable dissemination of trial findings?
  • How to find successful researchers and partners for clinical trials, consultants for advisory boards, eminent speakers for peer-to-peer programs, etc.?

Final Thoughts

The importance of Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) is increasing as the life science industry landscape expands. In this blog, we've studied the heroic points of DOLs and how technology can help companies keep up with the competition.

Pharma and Life Sciences industries have a great history of working with opinion leaders. However, with the world rapidly shifting towards digitalization, digital opinion leaders are being prioritized because they are highly influential and can significantly increase brand credibility and visibility among the target group across digital platforms.