Health is trendy these days. It seems that everywhere you look, someone’s talking about how they joined a gym or started drinking green juices made from exotic, difficult-to-pronounce vegetables. People are doing whatever it takes to look and feel their best.Overall, the focus on health and wellness has been a huge boon to the health and wellness industry, which grew by more than 10 percent from 2013 to 2015. It’s also given rise to the prominence of the health influencer, and to health influencer marketing.
A Closer Look at Health Influencer Marketing
If you asked 10 people what “health” is, you’d likely get 10 different answers. That’s because, unlike other industries, health covers a lot of ground and can mean different things to different people, based on what their specific goals are.
“Health” can mean for some getting in shape and exercising more. For others, it means giving up bad habits like smoking, drinking too much, and eating fast foods. To another group of people, “health” might refer to managing chronic diseases and alleviating the symptoms of those diseases.
For that reason, health influencer marketing is a multi-headed type of marketing. You have fitness influencers, health care professionals, and healthy food influencers, all working towards improving people’s health — but using different tactics to do so.
The same is true of the brands that might use health influencer marketing. A fitness brand is going to look to work with an influencer known for workouts, or for being a personal trainer. A pharmaceutical company might look for a patient influencer, and a healthy food company is going to find a nutrition-focused influencer.
How Health Influencer Marketing Is Different
Along with being more multifaceted than other forms of influencer marketing, health influencer marketing also often has different goals and restrictions.
It’s more educational.
Let’s face it: Fashion and other types of influencer marketing are often primarily focused on promotion. Health influencer marketing tends to put education first, though. It seeks to show people how to be their best selves, or how to navigate an often super-complicated health care system.
It has more built-in trust.
Trust is imperative in the health care system, as people need to put their faith in the recommendations of their doctors, pharmacists, and other health care providers to feel their best. A Gallup poll found that nurses were the most trusted, with doctors and pharmacists close behind. Trust is also imperative in influencer marketing. Consumers need to be able to rely on the words and advice from the people they follow online — and, according to Nielsen, they do.
It’s more regulated.
The health care industry — and to some extent the fitness and wellness industries — is heavily regulated. As an extension, health influencer marketing is more regulated (or at least should be) than other forms of influencer marketing.
You’ve most likely heard plenty about the FTC coming after influencers who fail to disclose their connection with brands and sponsors on certain posts. But did you know that the FDA has also stepped in and issued warnings to influencers who didn’t put the proper warnings and risk information on their posts? One of the most famous examples involves Kim Kardashian, who landed in hot water with the FDA after posting about a morning sickness medication she was taking.
Successful Health Influencer Marketing Examples
Katie Couric and Colonoscopies
Katie Couric’s colonoscopy took place in 2000 and aired on the “Today Show” and not on social media. Still, it’s a good example of early health influencer marketing. After Couric’s colonoscopy video aired, a slight uptick occurred in the number of people screened for cancer.
Quest Bars and the Instagram Influencer
For a while there, selling and marketing protein bars was a tough business. But the founder of Quest Bars found a way to get the product out in front of the right audience. They had fitness and wellness Instagram influencers post about it on their feeds.
According to Bon Appetit, Quest was one of the first health/wellness brands to really benefit from the appeal of influencers. As a result, the brand grew by 57,000 percent during its first three years.
Barby Ingle and the International Pain Foundation
Another way to use health influencers is by finding people with a history of illness and a compelling story. Then, use those people to educate others. For example, Barby Ingle is the president of the International Pain Foundation and herself a patient. The influencer produced videos to help patients navigate through the often complex health care system. One video, sponsored by Amino, discussed the issue of health care as it relates to personal finance.
How To Begin Health Influencer Marketing
There is, perhaps, a most important thing to remember with a health influencer marketing strategy. You need to take a slightly different approach to it than you would in any other industry.
To avoid run-ins with regulators, it’s essential to focus on education, not promotion. That means that if your brand sells a product that promises to improve health in some way, influencers can talk about their experience. But, they can’t make a hard push or sell.
You also want to choose your influencers carefully. Consider who they are, what their story is, and why they are in health. If you’re going to work with actual health care providers and professionals, be sure to verify their credentials. The last thing you want to do is partner with the wrong influencer. One who claims to be a doctor, but actually lost their license years ago, can ruin your brand
Finally, reach out to those influencers who seem like a good fit for your brand. See if they’re interested in working with you. It might take a bit of back and forth. But, partnering with the right health influencer can help to increase your company’s clout. This is especially true in the crowded health and wellness field.