So what do we mean by “influencer marketing?”
Because it sounds cringey, I know. But picture this…
A woman named Ali in her late 20s with young children, who’s interested in eating healthy, exercising and staying fashionable. She loves Instagram. She’s always sharing tips, tricks and LOL content about being a mom. So you follow her. And soon enough, most of your friends do, too, because her Insta is 10/10. Before you know it, you check Ali’s Insta every day, just to see what she’s up to. She’s kind of a friend, really, if you think about it. You want her advice on local daycares, lawn services or where to get your hair cut. When she says her favorite guilty-pleasure cookies are from a certain bakery, you can practically taste them, too. And when she’s planning a summer vacation at a particular resort, you realize how perfect it would actually be for your family. Plus, Ali shared a promo code for 10% off—it’s a great deal! You can hardly afford not to go, if you think about it…
Congratulations! Ali has become an influencer, and…you’ve been influenced. Don’t be self-conscious—it happens millions of times a day. And hey, there’s no shame in connecting with someone over shared interests, then taking their word on a product/service/brand that made a positive impact on their life. It’s a natural human behavior, which is why it’s an excellent marketing tactic—when you do it right, that is.
So how do you know if you’re doing it right? What are the “secrets” of pulling off a great influencer marketing campaign? Take a look at our top three secrets, and you’ll find out.
Secret #1: If you sell something, influencer marketing is for you.
I know what you’re probably thinking: I’m not selling yoga pants or makeup—I have a health product here. Why would I consider influencer marketing?
Well, if you read about Ali above, then this secret is already out of the bag: we’re social animals, and the recommendation of a trusted source is worth its weight in gold, regardless of what it’s for. We want to be in-the-know, we want to feel smart, and more seriously, we want to know that we’re making good choices—especially if it relates to our health.
The truth is, if your product or service can benefit from the recommendation of a trusted source, influencer marketing can work for you.
Secret #2: Health marketing was actually ahead of the curve.
There’s no doubt about it—health marketing often plays catchup to the rest of the retail and consumer world. But not in the case of influencer marketing.
In a surprising twist of fate, the same burden of proof that so often restricts health marketing’s creative license made way for a highly effective tool that was ahead of its time—Key Opinion Leaders. For years, the use of Key Opinion Leaders, or KOLs, has been an essential marketing strategy for the MedTech industry in particular.
Why? Because, like anyone else, healthcare providers love clinical evidence. But how do you sell an emerging product without having any actual evidence to substantiate your claims? You enlist a few KOLs to tell other providers about their amazing experiences and positive clinical outcomes with that product! Whether it’s participating in roundtables, sharing keynote speeches or simply preparing a good-old-fashioned webinar, using KOLs has become a mainstay of health marketing.
And in this regard, consumer marketing seems to have taken a rare nod from the health space.
Secret #3: Bigger isn’t better—but human is.
At this point, I can practically see the dollar signs in your eyes, scaring you away from trying influencer marketing. But don’t worry! You don’t need to shell out big bucks to hire a “celebrity” to be the face of your marketing campaign. Because the truth is, a small-time influencer can make an even greater impact than a household name might.
Why? Because the essence of influencer marketing isn’t in celebrity—it’s in connection.
The thing that sets an influencer apart—and the lens you should use when enlisting influencers—is their ability to create a genuine connection through their content. The best influencers don’t start out as influencers—they start out as real people. They start out with a small, tight-knit following, and grow their audience little by little with content that has nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with who they are and what they represent. Just like Ali.
Your influencer might be able to tell their story of how a medical device changed their life, or how living with diabetes is just a little bit easier with the help of their continuous glucose monitor. Or they can show their followers what it’s like to visit the dentist during COVID-19, helping them feel safe about scheduling their next appointment.
Speaking of dentistry (everyone’s favorite subject), I think it’s time we looked at a case study of how StoneArch used influencer marketing to help one of our clients, Park Dental.
Park Dental: A case study
In 2019, StoneArch started partnering with Park Dental, a doctor-owned group of more than 50 dental practices located in Minnesota and Wisconsin. While their traditional mix of print, digital and out-of-home advertising helped them gain significant market share, they wanted to move the needle with a new approach.
So we proposed a novel strategy (see Secret #1): an influencer marketing campaign!
Knowing that Park Dental is a family practice with tons of locations and convenient hours—and that most health decisions are made by women—we built our strategy around finding the right influencers to capture the right audience: busy moms in the Twin Cities metro area.
For our influencers, we reached agreements with three women in Minneapolis-St. Paul who had young children, less than 100,000 followers (making them micro-influencers), high engagement levels and, most importantly, consistently posted genuine content (Secret #3).
- Creator of The Momma Tribe (now known as Illuminated Mom), a virtual social community for moms
- 3,000+ followers
- Audience: stay-at-home moms based in the western Minneapolis suburbs
- Founder of Dose & Co. plant-based protein and collagen powders and wife of Michael Boxall, player for Park Dental-sponsored Minnesota United FC
- 30,000+ followers
- Audience: young, active women in the metro area who balance motherhood with an active lifestyle
- Lifestyle blogger and wife of Adam Thielen, player for Park Dental-sponsored Minnesota Vikings
- 80,000+ followers
- Audience: young, faith-based moms around the eastern Twin Cities suburbs
Libby Boxall is an interesting case study inside of our case study. She was a great fit for Park Dental. Not only was she already a patient, but her husband, Michael Boxall, plays for Minnesota United, a Major League Soccer team sponsored by Park Dental.
Libby first posted about taking her daughter, Max, to the dentist—in her unicorn leotard and rainboots of course! This post received over 1,100 likes and lots of comments, many of which Libby responded to—showing that she genuinely engages with her audience.
But here’s where it gets really interesting.
Libby also happens to have founded a protein and collagen creamer company called Dose & Co., and recently launched her products in the U.S. And when Libby began promoting her own products, what strategy did she turn to? Enlisting macro-influencer, Khloe Kardashian, as her brand advocate. Go, Libby! The takeaway here, aside from Libby being super savvy, is that while Khloe is a perfect partner for Dose & Co., she wouldn’t be the right representative for Park Dental, which needs a local, family-focused voice.
So where did Park Dental’s campaign net out?
In total, the campaign posts reached almost 35,000 local moms—for a total reach rate of 29.5%. And the posts’ positive engagement showed not only that the posts were reaching their intended audience, but spoke to the power of the influencers’ personal networks. ‘
Comments on the posts included:
- “We’ve got our first appointment with Park Dental coming up in a couple of weeks. I was a bit hesitant to schedule with them because it seems like a ‘chain’ dental provider with SO many locations. Nice to hear a positive review. Hoping our experience is positive as well!”
- “The best. And a new one popping up closer, so I don’t have to drive to the other side of Woodbury!”
- “I’m a patient at one of the Woodbury locations, the staff are excellent!”
- “Yayyy!! Love Park Dental!!!”
StoneArch continues to support Park Dental’s influencer marketing by managing an editorial calendar, connecting regularly with each influencer, and providing individualized Instagram post content and visual guidance.
I continue to advise that health clients, especially those with a patient-facing message, lean into the world of influencer marketing. Your influencer doesn’t have to be a celebrity, just someone with traits that complement your audience and brand, with a genuine persona and voice.
Interested in how influencer marketing can help your health brand, product or service grow? <let us know.>