Can Influencers Help #FlattenTheCurve?

Finland Influencers

There are many ways of getting information out far and wide in today’s world. We have the news on TV, online and in the papers, we have social media and we have word of mouth.

Donald Trump would ask that you don’t listen to or read the news on channels such as CNN or Fox, but listen to him instead. I don’t think there are many people willing to do that.

The majority of us now get our news from social media. I trust that if there’s anything going on in the world that I need to know about, I’ll see it on my Twitter feed first. Or I’ll receive a text from a friend or relative. I rarely ever watch or read the news, only if Trump or Boris Johnson is making a big announcement.

However, it appears that Finland are paving the way for new newscasters. Step aside Piers Morgan, John Snow and Fiona Phillips.

A MILLENNIAL LEADER FOR A MILLENNIAL SOCIETY

In December of 2019, Finland appointed it’s youngest ever leader. Sanna Marin became the world’s youngest serving state leader and the youngest Prime Minister in Finland’s history.

This Forbes article recently listed the women leaders around the world best handling the worldwide pandemic and Marin made the list alongside Angela Merkel of Germany, Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Erna Solberg of Norway.

Marin, realising that not everyone reads or listens to the news, has enlisted the help of Finnish social media influencers, to help promote the guidelines that are being put in force in Finland.

Social media influencers are heavily popular among the younger generation of society, and with their help, the messages being put forward by the Finnish government will be received by a lot more people.

BUT HOW MUCH DO WE TRUST INFLUENCERS?

I have many blog posts about influencers and influencer marketing, and in the past, have asked whether they belong in politics, belong in the sporting industry and if they should be certified in advertising. I’ve also looked at how some influencers have faked images, faked followers and faked likes.

Do we trust influencers? On the most part, I do. The ones that I follow, anyway. But do I trust that they are knowledgeable in the health sector? Not if they aren’t doctors or trained medical professionals.

I think I spoke before about two Irish influencers that I follow. One had been living in Bali and the other in Thailand. They both decided to fly back home to Ireland, but before going to isolate with their parents, they chose to quarantine together in an AirBnB in Dublin City Center.

Having come from these countries, flew many miles, boarded more than one plane and been in contact with a lot of people on their journey home, only two days into their quarantine, one of them claimed that they both weren’t showing any symptoms so definitely didn’t have the ‘rona.

Now hold on just a second. From what I’ve been reading and hearing, you can be asymptomatic and still test positive for the virus. This influencer with over 120,000 followers, was not preaching the right information.

So why should I trust what other influencers are going to tell me about the virus if they aren’t trained medical professionals?

INFLUENCERS, THE NEW CRITICAL WORKERS

Along with hospital workers, public transport workers and grocery store workers, social media influencers have been listed as critical workers in Finland, and have been listed as such for two years.

In times of a crisis, the Finnish government realized that traditional media wouldn’t be enough to reach the entire population, so enlisted social media influencers as a means to help spread messages in such times as the coronavirus pandemic.

The influencers that promote the government guidelines on their social channels are not paid, but feel it is their duty to share the information with their followers.

The Finnish government aren’t so slow and have also enlisted the help of micro-influencers alongside the more macro. I’ve written a blog post before about micro-influencers and how they can sometimes prove to have more engagement than the macro.

There have been 1,500 influencers selected by the Finnish government, who are receiving information to share with their audiences on a daily basis. The content is free to use and the influencers are not receiving any payment to share the information.

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

Many reports would show that we trust our next door neighbour moreso than the mainstream media. We trust influencers that we don’t know moreso than journalists.

So what would happen when a high-school student with 1,000 followers started spreading the information sent by the government? Would you listen to it? Maybe if this person had a lot of clout within their social circle.

School students with a high following (over 1,000) have been included in the micro-influencer category of Finland’s influencer communications strategy. I think this is quite a good idea, but would need to be monitored for false information or sensationalism.

A company called PING Helsinki have been transforming the government’s guidelines and information into a more social media-friendly format, hoping that audiences will engage and that influencers will share the messages.

SHOULD WE TRUST THE MEDIA, OR THE SOCIAL MEDIA?

As time has went on, a lot of people (especially those in high positions) are understanding the power of social media. We have Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and even the Pope with Twitter accounts.

The President of America would be an example of how not to use social media while in power, while others like the Pope would show how best to use it.

I don’t know if we’ll be seeing Donald Trump or the Pope on Tik Tok in the coming months, but who knows? In the next few years we could see the rise of Tik Tok and the demise of Instagram and Twitter.

I’m sure many years ago we never expected to receive tweets from our Prime Minister or from the Pope, yet here we are. So who is to say we won’t see the man below Jesus himself completing the next dance challenge on Tik Tok?

As to warnings about COVID-19, I’m yet to see any UK or American influencers sharing their knowledge or warnings on their social channels. The Finnish influencers will be a good case study to learn from, and we’ll soon see whether other governments catch on to their use and also implement them in crisis and communications strategies going forward.

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