An influencer earns a large following on social media due to their expertise or perceived expertise in any field. Anyone in any niche can be an influencer. So, it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that there are medical influencers.
It’s also easy to see why there are so many of them. Concerns about the pandemic and Covid-19 have led people to social media with many health questions and concerns. That’s in addition to all the interest in weight loss, vaccinations, wellness, and alternative medicine.
Of course, this brings up some serious questions. Are all medical influencers qualified to give the advice they do? Is there a risk of ethics being compromised? What happens when a medical influencer endorses a brand or otherwise profits from their expertise? What good can a medical influencer do?
What Is a Medical Influencer?
It’s essential to distinguish medical influencers from fitness, diet, or wellness influencers. While these influencers may give what amounts to medical advice (they shouldn’t do that), they aren’t medical influencers. Instead, a medical influencer is someone with a degree, license, or other qualifications that make them experts in healthcare or an allied field.
Do You Have to Be a Doctor to Be an Influencer?
In short, not always. There have been doctors who have advised people on topics out of their sphere of expertise. Some have also used their position to push seemingly politicized information over fact. For example, one medical doctor posted a video on how to grocery shop safely during the pandemic. Unfortunately, some of his advice was incorrect, and there were disclosures that he should have made but didn’t. It caused quite a bit of controversy. While he may not have intended for his content to go viral, it did. That makes it clear that medical influencers have a greater responsibility to be accurate and precise.
Is There a Risk of Ethics Being Compromised?
Yes, there is a genuine concern here. Those risks include:
- Influencers faking credentials
- HIPAA violations
- Endorsing questionable products or practices
- Information and advice are reaching an unintended audience.
Ultimately, doctors and other healthcare professionals have ethical, even legal obligations that don’t exist elsewhere. Unfortunately, some apparent violations of ethics and different situations land squarely within gray areas. Anyone who wishes to be a medical influencer or work with one needs to tread carefully. Suppose they are going to introduce products, for example. In that case, they should do so through a reputable influencer marketing platform like JustGoViral to help their audience, always taking precedence over any profit.
What Happens When a Medical Influencer Enters the Marketing Sphere?
Any time someone endorses a brand or product on social media, that has the potential to become problematic. For example, influencers have been caught endorsing products they never used, selling products through misrepresentation, recommending dangerous or unhealthy products, and failing to disclose that they were appropriately compensated.
All of these things can occur if a doctor or other healthcare professional decides to try influencer marketing. That’s concerning enough. With a medical influencer, there are other concerns as well. Some in the medical field believe that doctors and other professionals in healthcare should never endorse products on social media. And if they do, they must do so with care and more of a sense of obligation than the average social media personality.
Do Medical Influencers Add Value?
At this point, it may seem as if medical influencers are an entirely negative thing. That isn’t true. Someone who can provide their followers with information that will help them become healthier and improve their quality of life is undoubtedly adding value.
A doctor who can explain complicated medical information in a way that is easier for the average person to understand should be considered a welcome presence on any social media platform.
While there have certainly been controversies, even downright unethical behavior, there have been many examples of doctors providing excellent information online. That includes correcting misinformation, taking part in public health initiatives,
How Can Someone Become a Medical Influencer
In some ways, a healthcare professional can become a medical influencer by using the same techniques people in other fields do. For example, they should choose a niche that is solidly within their area of expertise, identify a target audience, and select the social media platforms that are most appropriate for them. After that, they need to create high-quality content with excellent production values, work to build an audience, and create an engagement strategy. Finally, there’s reaching out to other influencers to build an audience and reach. Ideally, they create content that will go viral because it adds value and helps their audience live better.
Of course, things get more complicated for medical influencers interested in monetizing their presence on social media. While every influencer should be ethical, medical influencers must exercise even more excellent care. One possible approach for medical influencers to take is to endorse products outside the medical arena. For example, a doctor might endorse an app for organization and to-do lists as something they use personally to stay organized. At the same time, they might refuse to endorse a telemedicine app, lest it is interpreted as them selling their medical opinions to the highest bidder.
Medical influencers are here, and they aren’t going anywhere. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, it’s imperative that doctors and other healthcare influencers use their power of influence ethically and that they avoid any potential for liability.
That includes any decisions they make regarding partnering with brands or accepting compensation for their endorsements. Consider consulting with an influencer marketing platform like JustGoViral to ensure you remain honest and responsible with your content.