With alarms over the highly transmissible Delta variant growing and the number of Americans seeking vaccination waning, the US government is justifiably concerned. Fewer than half of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 are fully vaccinated and only about 58 percent between the ages of 12 and 17 have gotten any vaccine at all. To address this, the White House has kicked off a new campaign with a group of influencers in an effort to encourage hesitant Americans to get vaccinated.
Research has shown that elected officials and appointees are not in the best position to reach the unvaccinated, who are predominantly skeptical anti-vaxxers and those living in poverty. With the public’s trust in government dropping below that of business during the pandemic, federal, state and local governments have been forced to seek new avenues for disseminating information and influencing public opinion, especially among younger citizens. Enter: influencers.
Village Marketing and COVID vaccine campaign “Made to Save” are leading the charge by deploying 50 Twitch streamers, YouTubers, TikTokers and some big names including teen pop star Olivia Rodrigo. Rodrigo, who has 15.7 million Instagram followers and 6.7 million YouTube subscribers, visited the White House in person to record videos for a social media push in which she answers questions young people have about getting vaccinated.
“I am beyond honored and humbled to be here today to help spread the message about the importance of youth vaccination,” Rodrigo said from the White House press briefing room podium. Youth vaccination rates continue to lag significantly behind the general American population,” Rodrigo said during her visit.
Prior to that, on May 24, President Biden and his chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci hosted a YouTube town hall, where they spoke with popular creators including Manny Mua, Brave Wilderness and Jackie Aina to answer the public’s questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. Collectively, these three creators boast 28 million YouTube subscribers.
Brands are upping their spend on influencer marketing, a testament to the power of creators. Younger generations engage with and trust influencers more than celebrities given the level of intimacy and trust afforded by social media. For the first time ever, followers can converse with their influencer idols as though they’re friends while still viewing them as credible sources of information—be it for purchases, life advice and gaming tips.
Today, influencers are not only effective tools for building brand awareness but also converting. Just as the travel industry has been partnering with influencers to promote their enhanced cleanliness standards and ways to travel again safely, the White House should continue to tap influencers to get more eyes on public service campaigns. And given that 63 percent of marketers believe their influencer marketing strategy is effective in demonstrating ROI, the federal, state and local governments would be wise to follow suit.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the goal of the White House’s influencer vaccination campaign is to “meet people where they are” by utilizing influencers to disseminate truthful information with audiences who may not resort to traditional news stations as their primary source of information. These influencers act as the conduit through which the current administration can connect with and offer protection to communities that may otherwise be unreachable.
TikTok star Ellie Zeiler, who’s known for making dance and vlog-style videos for her 10.2 million TikTok followers, is also part of the campaign. She interviewed Dr. Fauci and created videos addressing why she got the vaccine and why others should too.
Tinx, a social media phenom who gives dating, fashion and life advice to her 1.3 million TikTok followers, also video chatted with Dr. Fauci, though her approach was more comedic and less serious than other influencers, for example prefacing one of her questions by saying she’s been “going to Pilates like three times a week.”