This spring the Covid-19 pandemic shook the whole world. The novel virus and abnormal situation caused a lot of confusion, discussion and even fear among people. All kinds of information was spread in media. Updates to the latest diagnoses and quarantine situations took over coffee break discussions as well as magazine headlines.
However, in uncertain situations like these, reliable information is essential. That is why the Finnish Government wanted to take action. To make sure that reliable and timely news about coronavirus would reach everyone in Finland, we started a collaboration together with the Finnish Government and the Finnish Media Pool (part of the National Emergency Supply Agency)
The purpose of this collaboration was to support social media influencers in sharing reliable information related to the coronavirus.
“We can reach a large portion of the public in Finland through official communications and traditional media channels, but it is clear that the messages of the authorities do not always reach all population groups. The aim of this cooperation is to provide better access to information for those who are difficult to reach through traditional media and communications,” says Government Communications Director Päivi Anttikoski.
“As far as we know, Finland is the only country in the world that has defined social media as a critical operator in terms of security of supply. In this exceptional situation, social media has a very important role to play in disseminating information.”
The main goal for this collaboration was to provide social influencers reliable information from the authorities and encourage them to share it with their followers. They were also encouraged to show good example and follow the recommendations and restrictions set to prevent virus from spreading.
Social media influencers have played an important role in sharing reliable information but also preventing the spread of disinformation. Influencers can reach thousands or even millions of people and have a great impact on them. Especially young people rely on influencers more than on other communication channels. That is why influencers have a great responsibility.
The campaign started with a thorough influencer mapping of the most significant influencers in Finland. PING Helsinki’s wide network of influencers was sent an invitation to join this important campaign and use their platform.
The first #coronafacts-message was sent to 900 Finnish influencers. After a couple of months the list consisted of over 1800 names.
In the beginning a daily and later a weekly update was sent directly to influencers inboxes. The email included the most important messages to convey to followers, timely information and links to reliable sources as well as ready-made content to use.
Also three #coronafacts -webinars were organized to educate and share information about the situation: how to communicate about coronavirus in social media, how to survive the difficult times as a social media entrepreneur and last but not least, how to cope with the situation mentally and physically.
Our unique cooperation has been widely noticed by media both in Finland and internationally. For example Politico and The Guardian wrote articles about the Finnish government’s efforts to engage influencers in sharing reliable information about coronavirus.
After 16 #coronafacts -messages, 3 webinars and countless social media posts about coronavirus we asked the influencers’ and their followers’ opinions on the campaign.
97% of the influencers who took the survey said this campaign was needed and 88% felt it was useful for them.
“I felt it was important, and also my duty as an influencer and with a broad audience, to be part of this and spread reliable information”
“In the midst of all this, it would have been really strange not to share and take a stand. It has been really relieving to know that I’m sharing real information, especially now with large amount of information spreading around.”
94% of followers feel they got enough information and instructions about coronavirus via influencers. 97% of respondents consider the corona-related information shared by influencers reliable. Almost half of them say influencers have affected their behavior during the pandemic.
The collaboration between PING Helsinki and Mediapool began already in the summer of 2018. The goals we set at the time sounded very far-reaching and even distant: “we want to secure reliable information in crisis situations” and “we are developing tools to enhance the credibility of social media influencers”. We even wondered if that was bit of an overreaction then. What crisis situation might we face? Or why would communication be at risk?
Now, a year and a half later, the crisis and the exceptional circumstances are true and everyday for all of us. At the same time, the role of social media influencers in social communication has become more prominent than anyone could expect.
The fight against the coronavirus is something we all need to tackle together. When it comes to communications, reliability and accountability are especially important. Everyone can help by following the guidelines of the authorities and by sharing information to our friends and loved ones. One share can make a big difference.