Skye Stewart, Senior Public Relations and Social Media Manager

While we are all living through a time of extreme political divide, a pandemic, and well… just 2020 in a nutshell, it’s so refreshing to see that influential figures with teeny tiny followings and world famous stars are using their social media platforms to educate others. The power that influencers (big and small) have is incredible and it’s so great to see that they’re using it to their fullest potential.

I recently enjoyed following along with a campaign from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). They ran a public awareness campaign (#HealthyTexas) from April through August of this year that’s goal was to educate Texas residents about the coronavirus and safety precautions the state was putting in place around the pandemic.

Part of DSHS’ campaign budget went to influencer partnerships across Instagram and TikTok. Local influencers with Texas based followings shared their new safety routines, like wearing a mask and keeping good hygiene. 

By using TikTok and Instagram as an integral platform to share its marketing efforts, the DSHS successfully found a way to reach younger audiences more directly, rather than utilizing more traditional advertising methods, like TV and billboards, that younger folks might not always be paying attention to. The campaign garnered strong engagement rates, proving that influencer marketing is far more than just advertising a product: it’s truly a powerful way to inspire and create authentic dialogue between target audiences and any organization. Influencers with audiences of all sizes are giving their followers a connection to a  ‘real person’ whom they can relate to. 

Here’s how the DSHS did it: 

With the help of micro-influencers and macro-influencers across both platforms, DSHS  activated support from celebrities/athletes and mega-influencers like Leena Snoucbar, a social media influencer with over 1M followers on Instagram. She gave her followers an inside look into her daily routine — and encouraged her audience to wear a mask, keep 6 feet apart from others, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands.

The organization even activated help from Chris Sapphire, a star on Netflix’s The Circle, and former MLB player Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez to help spread the word. A grand total of 26 participants were activated to share their own messages in unique ways that resonated with their followers. For some, that meant sharing how they’ve been directly affected by the virus or helpful tips for other residents to abide by. For example, Olympic Gold medalist Nastia Liukin shared a video of her saying “Because wearing a mask is easier than doing this.” She then performed a routine on her kitchen counter. As a gymnast, she wanted to create content that would easily resonate with her followers.

While the campaign’s overall messaging evolved as stay-at-home orders were lifted and social distancing became crucial as more people came out and about, the organization was careful to partner with influencers who were taking the state’s guidelines seriously in their everyday lives. Whether it was making sure the influencers were showcasing themselves wearing masks when they were in public in their Instagram stories or properly social distancing if they were in a space with others, there were so many components that went into making sure this campaign felt as authentic, organic, and meaningful as possible. 

As our world keeps spinning and each day ends differently than the last one, I’m personally awed by the fact that different types of organizations and government entities are opening their eyes (and marketing strategies!) to the world of influencer marketing. It’s truly a powerful way to garner positive sentiment and awareness in a trailblazing way. Whether they are educating consumers about coronavirus safety precautions, empowering people to take action, or showcasing a unique experience, there’s so much we can learn from these personalized campaigns. At the end of the day, influencers are people just like you and I. As brand leaders and consumers, we can trust them, we can relate to them, and we can be inspired by them and the messages they share. Kudos to organizations (like the DSHS) who are jumping on board.