Why Influencer Marketing in Health + Wellness Is Different

Health care professional with patient

In the past 5 years, influencer marketing has earned a respected place at the marketing table. In fact, last May a study by Augure found that 84% of marketing and communications professionals worldwide expected to launch at least one campaign involving an influencer in the next 12 months. However, influencer marketing is more mature in some categories than others. Fashion, gaming and beauty categories are firmly established, with plenty of bloggers, Youtubers and Instagrammers with loyal fan bases ready to talk about products in categories night and day. Influencer marketing within the health and wellness verticle is different.

Influencer marketing is not as well-developed with products and services in the health and wellness category. Why is this? We think it is the nature of the influencers. Here are 5 important ways Health & Wellness influencers are different.

1. Their primary relationships are face-to-face

H&W influencers operate online and offline. Most have not developed their social media profiles enough to establish a strong online following. But this is changing as more consumers look for information to manage their health conditions online. Even those H&W influencers with a strong online following still rely on in-person relationships with their clients and patients. Despite the growing use of telemedicine and greater comfort with social media, relationships are generally eyeball to eyeball, heart to heart.

2. They usually have professional credentials

Most H&W influencers are degreed, licensed, registered, board-certified and/or have certificates. Their licensing body publishes ethical and professional standards. So, unlike the mommy blogger who is relatable to so many other moms in the same situation, a health care professional who is also a blogger has an ethical and moral obligation not to provide medical advice to the masses. That said, there are plenty of H&W influencers online with highly engaged audiences.

3. Their advice can be life-changing

Nothing is more personal than one’s health. Advice from an H&W influencer to a patient or client can have a large impact on their quality of life. The health issues being addressed are often challenging ones that require significant lifestyle changes and time to get results. Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and arthritis, to name a few, are difficult to manage. There is no magic pill. Patients need advice and ongoing support to stick with treatments and improve their health.

4. They’re more likely to be a micro-influencer

Even the more social-savvy health and wellness influencers don’t have as large a social following as influencers in other categories such as fashion or entertainment. Most health and wellness influencers are micro-influencers, who have an online following in the 1K – 5K range. Many are part of the “power middle” (10K – 100K followers). And, few are Social Celebs (500K – 1M+). It can take more influencers to run an influencer program in H&W as compared to other categories. But the good news is that in these cases, brands can often expect higher engagement, resulting in a more successful program.

5. FDA regulations apply

In addition to the usual FTC guidelines for social media, FDA regulations also apply to influencer marketing activity for OTC brands. Ethical standards also exist for licensed and registered health care professionals and are usually created by a licensing body such as a professional association.

The marketing strategy and target audience for each brand will drive the best approach to their influencer marketing program in this category. That said, we believe there is a huge opportunity for health and wellness professionals to amplify messaging from brands they believe in, and who have an authentic and credible message.