AvantSpeakOpinion Leaders

When “K” and “D” Overlap: The Key to Engaging Digital Opinion Leaders

Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs), although on the map a while now, have seen their prominence accelerate as the world goes more digital naturally—and because they’ve had to since 2020. A critical component of any opinion leader (OL) engagement strategy, DOLs demonstrate distinctly different ways of communicating and connecting with their audiences than traditional Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs).

Although they share overlap—while DOLs are often KOLs, and some KOLs may dip their toe in the DOL waters—the two are not interchangeable. To help better determine how DOLs can augment your overall opinion leader engagement strategy, we have developed three common DOL personas: Engagers, Creators, and Sharers


The Engager

This DOL enjoys a significant number of followers, focusing their time on facilitating conversations on social platforms. While their time spent online may not result in much content in the way of new articles or posts, Engagers pride themselves on mixing it up with their peers via content others have posted.  It’s not uncommon to find other DOLs following Engagers simply to keep a pulse on relevant conversations happening on social media.

The Creator

Unlike Engagers, Creators regularly author their own social media content. They make a point to share new information, best practices, and other relevant content with their followers frequently. Creators seek timely information on clinical trials, FDA guidance, and other related data points to synthesize and spark conversations with peers on social media.

The Sharer

The Sharer actively seeks out information they deem important to share with their followers. The list of who they follow—and who follows them—is long and includes fellow DOLs in their area of focus. Sharers spend most of their social media time amplifying the visibility of important messages curated by others.

How to Engage the Different DOL Personas

Now that you’ve had a quick primer on the more common DOL personas, how do you apply that knowledge to bringing these types of DOLs into your overall opinion leader engagement strategy? Let’s walk through a few examples.

Engaging the Engager

Engagers can serve as a great resource for consulting on your content intended to be shared via social media. This type of DOL keeps an eye specifically on what types of conversations the content may generate. Additionally, they may be able to help you by providing information on the most recent content-sharing trends within their area of expertise. Over time, as you build a strong relationship with the Engager, the hope is that they create a conversation around the content you have created and/or shared.

Cultivating the Creator

The Creator can serve in an advising capacity in evaluating your overall social media strategy, through the lens of a Health Care Professional (HCP). They can also help with specific social media content, both helping to create as well as provide feedback on previously drafted posts. The Creator also serves as an excellent mentor to upcoming DOLs, pharma medical and product development teams, or to your traditional KOL who has not yet mastered their social media presence.

The Sharer: Sharing Their Expertise

Like the Engager, the Sharer will provide a great perspective on any content you plan to share via social media. They have their finger on the pulse and can provide feedback about how shareable your content is in its current format, including how to pulse, segment, and tailor that content.

Knowing a bit more about the three DOL personas will hopefully jump-start your thinking around how and where you can begin building DOL relationships. Doing so will help solidify your approach to opinion leader engagement—and show DOLs you know your stuff. Want to learn more from the experts in opinion leader identification and engagement to complement your organization’s product or brand strategy? We can help devise a sound strategy, including the best social media, internal stakeholders, and creative approaches to take your brand where it needs to go next.

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