Y ou may have seen this image on Instagram before. If not, maybe an image radically close to this one. While it’s quite ‘basic’ in the urban dictionary sense, there’s a good reason to talk about this image in particular.

It’s fake.

Socality Barbie is here to show you, with just the right amount of irony, how clichéd the #liveauthentic aesthetic really is,” read The Atlantic.

Socality Barbie, an Instagram account that had a meteoric rise to 1.3M followers in 2014, used Barbie to mock Instagram influencer aesthetics, and then it promptly shut down in 2015.

While the account closed for good, the love-mock relationship with influencer culture lives on. For example, accounts like @influencersinthewild rally around the absurdity of influencer content creation. People love influencers and people hate them (as with most things) so this is not exactly a radical statement. Sentiment aside, the fact remains that influencers do impact purchase choices.

58% of 18- to 34-year-olds claimed to have bought a new product over a six-month period in 2018/19 because of an influencer.
(Edelman, 2019)

And more than that, influencers also impact the ideas we hold about what is good for ourselves and others.

Misinformation

Bill Gates is going to inject you with a tracker using the vaccine. This is one of the more outlandish conspiracy theories circulating in the media today. Whether it’s a conspiracy theory or a concern about the rapid development of the vaccine, a growing segment of US citizens are choosing to forgo vaccinations altogether. A recent survey poll found that 35% of its respondents said they were unlikely to get vaccinated. And in a real-life case, 60% of nursing home staff in Ohio have elected not to take the COVID-19 vaccine. These numbers are troubling.

If anywhere from one-in-three or two-in-three citizens choose to not get the vaccine, we can be certain that America is not going to be returning to ‘normal’ anytime soon.

There is a growing distrust between Americans and government institutions. Love ’em or mock ’em, influencers hold a brighter light of trust with consumers. They can leverage that trust and help us get back to normal by disseminating correct information about the vaccine. At the same time, a government cannot pay influencers to get a vaccine so you won’t be seeing #sponcon vaccinations anytime soon.

Below are three ways influencers can leverage their platforms to share vaccine information for the public good.

#1: Vaccine Demonstration

Have you ever been with a group of friends at a swimming pool? Someone always has to jump first for the rest to follow. The easiest way influencers can help alleviate their audience’s concerns regarding the vaccine is by video journaling their own vaccination. You can record yourself going to the clinic. Show yourself getting the shot. Produce follow-up content three days later and a week later. Vaccine-hesitant populations need to see others they know and trust  ‘jumping in the pool’ first before choosing to get vaccinated themselves.

#2: Question & Answer Portals

Instagram’s Q & A feature is perfect for the vaccine-hesitant who need questions answered by someone they trust. Medical influencers do indeed exist. Doctors, nurses, and those with medical backgrounds are best suited to host AMAs with their audiences on social platforms. How does the vaccine work? What if I have preexisting conditions? Are there any side effects? How many shots will I need to take overall? When is it my turn to get it? Capturing frequently asked questions and then answering them in IG Stories, Carousel, or Live Feed is a great way for medical professionals to share information with their audience.

Influencers not within the medical space can help with Q&A’s too. They can help elevate other medical professional’s IG pages and they can re-share content from medical professional pages to their own.

#3: Content Hosting

Many influencers host websites, blogs, and Pinterest boards that are ideal for sharing links to reputable medical sources. Influencers can dedicate space on their website directing audiences to their local public health center’s website or to reputable doctors and nurses who are answering FAQs on their own pages.

It’s not just “influencers” that can get involved.

Audiences alike are able to be a part of the national effort to get their communities vaccinated. If we continue to hope for a society that celebrates role models, and not just models, we can be a part of that change. In a time of uncertainty, people look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine how to act themselves. You, reader, are influential in your own way. Are you a part of the first wave to get a vaccine? You have the potential to influence family, friends, and acquaintances using one of the content methods above. There’s no need to measure your clout before considering how to use your voice for public health. You only need to consider how your voice might affect the actions of your own small (or large) community online and help us all return to normal, sooner.