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Finland calls on social media influencers in time of crisis

Finland calls on social media influencers in time of crisis

During a time of crisis, Finland is turning to social media influencers to spread key factual information.

In many countries, including the UK, terms such as 'key workers', 'essential workers', or 'critical actors' are being widely used right now. Generally, they're describing people whose occupation is in the health services, transport or supermarkets. However, in Finland, social media influencers are also on that list and are now playing a key role as the country responds to the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

According to Finland, it's the only country in the world to designate social media influencers as critical actors. With a population of around 5.5 million, the Nordic country has Sanna Marin in charge as Prime Minister - currently the youngest Prime Minister in the world, at the age of just 34.

According to decision-makers in Helsinki, influencers have a key role to play in a time of crisis by spreading information on social media, hence why they have been part of Finland's emergency contingency plans for almost two years. The Prime Minister's Office has started a collaboration with the Finish Media Pool (part of the country's National Emergency Supply Agency) and PING Helsinki, an influencer marketing consultancy. Describing the collaboration, Government Communications Director Päivi Anttikoski said it was hoped it would help reach people who are usually difficult to reach through traditional methods;

“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,”

“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.”

A rising number of people around the world now get their news through social media. Last year, Ofcom reported that nearly half of adults in the UK get their news through social media, and the government in Helsinki has identified similar trends for Finland, in particular with young people getting news through social media.

Under the collaboration, the PING Helsinki consultancy edits the government's messages into a format more friendly for social media, and then sends them onto its network of around 1,500 influencers. Influencers are then encouraged to use the provided messages and images as they like.

Influencers such as Inari Fernández, who has 34K followers on Instagram, are getting involved in the collaboration on a voluntary basis, sharing key messages on their social media channels. There have been 17 confirmed deaths from the virus so far in Finland, and over 1,400 confirmed cases. For a country with a small population, it is hoped that such influencers can play a significant part in spreading government-based and reliable information and advice amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

PING Helsinki said on their website;

"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."

Finland is one of many countries to now be in lockdown amid the Coronavirus pandemic, with the government asking residents to stay at home.

 

Photo Credit: Sanna Marin, Finish Prime Minister - in Brussels for a Special European Council in February 2020 | Credit: European Union

 

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