10th July 2019
Introducing Influencing Health
Introducing Influencing Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Online Influencers
The U.S., and countries across the globe, are facing an ever-evolving series of health issues including obesity, food deserts, child hunger, poor maternal health outcomes, and the resurgence of communicable diseases. However, health communicators and marketers have traditionally talked about health in a vacuum where health information is only ever appropriate when people are looking for health-related information.
If we are to make health an important part of our everyday lives, we need to weave it into everyday conversations and experiences – and the emergence of online influencers presents an opportunity to do this. Online influencers have built large and engaged followings in social media that give them the voice and the platform to reach millions of people with personal points of view.
And this signals great opportunities for health promotion programs.
“It is within this context, that I wrote my new book entitled, Influencing Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Online Influencers. It draws from research with over 400 online influencers, the latest industry data, and my practical, real-world experiences working with them over the past ten years. When writing my book, I explored the concepts of opinion leadership, risk, fatalism, and online influencers’ willingness to talk about health in order to provide practitioners with an understanding of how this online community works as well as tips and tricks to successfully navigate it. You can read select excerpts from the book below.”
On influencers as opinion leaders…
“The main appeal of everyday layperson influencers is that they are ordinary people giving an ordinary person’s perspective. They talk about a range of subjects, from gaming and fashion to music and politics. Their “ordinariness” and their accessibility allow their audiences to identify with them. This leads to a higher than normal level of notoriety for an everyday person, and with that popularity, some have become incredibly powerful as they are able to influence the opinions and purchasing behaviors of huge numbers of people.”
On influencers writing about health topics…
“Ultimately, how online influencers come to the topic of health is not universal and not necessarily linear. It is complex and oftentimes messy, but that messiness means that there is an opportunity. There is the potential to weave health into any context—if the story is a strong one and the influencer sees a place for it both in their writing and with their followers.”
On influencers & risk…
“Risk is real for influencers. If they say or do something that alienates their followers, their reputation could be jeopardized and they could lose followers, paid engagements, and ultimately income. So weighing the risk of sharing information about health (or any other topic) will be an important part of the decision-making process about whether or not to work with an initiative.”
On influencers being fatalistic…
“I believe that influencers are a special ilk of people. Many of them started blogging to build some sort of network or community—even if it was just within their own family. I think this initial behavior of starting a blog exhibits their innate anti-fatalistic beliefs. I mean, I do not think they would have started their blog if they didn’t think it would make a difference.”
On what this book means to me…
I want to thank all the influencers who talked with me as part of my research, who have worked with me over the years, and who shared their stories with me—so poignant and so personal. I have the utmost respect for these influencers and the work they continue to do for themselves, their followers, and their communities.”
Have we piqued your interest? Pre-order Influencing Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Online Influencers here: www.routledge.com/9780367249922
For more information or to request a review copy, please contact: [email protected]
About the Author
Dr. Amelia Burke-Garcia is an award-winning digital health communicator and researcher with more than fifteen years of experience creating innovative and impactful digital interventions for public health initiatives. Currently, she runs Westat’s Center for Digital Strategy and Research and leads numerous influencer-focused efforts on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).