The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has paid more than fifty social media “influencers” to generate interest in the Budget and to obtain feedback. This endeavor was done in order to reach the younger generation of Singaporeans. The compensation each influencer has been paid remains undisclosed.
Since December, more than thirty Instagram posts have been put up by numerous young people who have a strong social media following. In these posts, influencers have asked their followers to check out the Budget website to keep themselves informed.
Influencers are also encouraging followers to provide feedback on the Budget with government feedback unit Reach and at specific locations or via “listening posts” all throughout the month of January, before Budget 2018, which is scheduled for February 19 this year.
The posts, which are labeled as sponsored by Instagram, has the potential to reach thousands of followers that these social media influencers attract. Their Budget-related posts have presented how the Budget affects their daily lives or they feature photos of them at the listening posts.
The MOF campaign hopes to reach 225,000 Instagram users. A spokeswoman for the MOF has said that it is using “a mix of communications channels and platforms” for awareness and feedback, since many from the younger generation get their information on the internet. However, they have not explained how they’ll keep track of the results of the campaign.
This is the second year in a row that the MOF has employed social media influencers to promote the Budget, but this year they have scaled it up, partnering with StarNgage – a marketing company with whom they joined forces earlier this year on posts concerning the GST U-Save rebates.
Terrence Ngu, StarNgage Community Officer, explained that the fifty social media influencers on the MOF Budget campaign will be sharing a post about the Budget on Instagram, and include links to the campaign on their profiles.
According to StarNgage’s website, a person who has at least 1,000 followers is considered to be a preferred influencer. Mr. Ngu has said that the campaign’s success will be measured on how much awareness about the Budget was raised, based on how many followers influencers have, as well as the comments and likes on their posts.
Thus far, while the posts have been liked in the hundreds, comments have been few, at usually less than twenty, making it uncertain whether awareness is being raised or not.
These influencers, all of whom are young and attractive, have not disclosed how much they were paid either. They are positive that they are reaching young Singaporeans with their posts about the Budget, especially since, as Shanel Lim, says “nowadays not everyone reads the newspapers or watches the news on TV or online.” Ms. Lim, 26, has more than 11,000 followers and is a stay-at-home mom.
Another influencer, Royce Lee, is also 26 and an emcee for events. He has more than 10,000 followers and is confident that, based on feedback from his friends, they’ve seen his post on Budget 2018.
The head of of the communications program at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, Dr. Brian Lee, agrees that the campaign is an effective tool for raising awareness among young people, but cautioned that social media has its limitations when it comes to changing behavior or attitudes.
While the social media influencers followers have been enthusiastic about their posts, other netizens are not keen on the MOF’s Budget 2018 campaign, casting doubt on the effectiveness of the influencers’ reach:
Some netizens said they did not know any of the influencers at all:
Still others took issue with the fact that public funds were used fund such a campaign: