Singapore—One of the less successful strategies the government used in 2018 to help people understand the national Budget was the use of social media influencers. However this strategy did not work well as they were generally perceived to be unqualified to explain it.
By January 2018, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) had paid over 50 such influencers to generate interest in the Budget and to obtain feedback in order to reach the younger generation of Singaporeans. How much each influencer was paid was undisclosed.
Influencers’ posts directed their followers to the MOF website where the Budget was explained. These Budget-related posts presented how the Budget affects their daily lives or feature photos of them at the “listening posts’ the Government set up to learn more about the Budget.
Back then, the MOF campaign said that it had hoped to reach 225,000 Instagram users.
But the initiative, which was not repeated in 2019 or this year, did not meet its goals due to a problem with credibility, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
SCMP quotes the head of public relations at the media and advertising firm Ogilvy Asia-Pacific, Andrew Taylor, as saying, “I imagine somebody decided: ‘Lets get young people to understand the budget. It’s an easy trap to fall into – they are a young demographic, birds of a feather flock together – and so ‘we will get like-minded people to talk to them
But then, the audience doesn’t buy it, since it’s not the message they expect from a content creator, or from the Ministry of Finance. So they … are outraged that they are assumed to be so stupid.”
SCMP points out that since many in Singapore are prolific social media users, it’s a good market for social influencers. But the biggest takeaway from the MOF initiative is how important credibility is, particularly for business-to-business (B2B) influencers.
Furthermore, the best business influencers are generally not paid ones, and are figures who are recognised for their level of expertise, personal standing and experience in their fields.
The associate director at Advisors Alliance Group, Mark Chew, says that business influencers “should work towards telling stories and providing education instead of ad-like promotions that get on people’s nerves or are forgotten. A business influencer must position him or herself solely to expand insight into their line of work and not to make a profit or get a business lead, which could damage their credibility.”
Additionally, business influencers should have “industry stature and presence,” according to a principal consultant at PXD Labs, Darwin Sy Antipolo. He added, “An influential YouTuber or Instagramer who sprays in every direction might have mass appeal. If your business is a mass one, then you go with them. But the B2B space is almost always niche, so your influencer should be industry-centric.”
Effective business influencers should not sound fake, said Debbie Lin, brand solutions manager for a social video agency. SCMP quotes her as saying, “Viewers are definitely a lot smarter these days. They can tell when something is forced and then they disregard it completely.” —/TISG
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