How much does your favorite influencer really know about health?

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On the International Day of Health, we alert you about the influencers of health and how much to believe them

How much does your favorite influencer really know about health?

Advertising through social networks through influencers is an increasingly larger and more expensive industry, and health influencers are becoming more common. There are, on the one hand, the influencers dedicated to the world of health and fitness, and, on the other, the influencers famous for other talents that from time to time they throw their fans some tip on health. This, although born with the rise of social networks, especially Instagram, is not a new phenomenon. Celebrities, for decades, are dedicated, from time to time, tell us their secrets to stay healthy and beautiful. However, this has escalated from one tip there and another there in fashion and beauty magazines to the millionaire contracts behind an Instagram post. This brings us to the question, how much do health influencers know? How much do we have to believe them when they give us advice on how to be healthy?

Leer en español: ¿Qué tanto sabe realmente su influencer favorito sobre salud?

How is health related to marketing influencer?

No doubt marketing influencer is growing exponentially at an unimagined speed. Brands of clothes and makeup had been taken for years by the social networks of influencers and YouTubers to advertise. According to Digiday, the value of an Instagram post, for example, may vary depending on the number of followers, the product, exclusivity, etc. It can be estimated, however, that companies pay up to $ 1,000 for every 100,000 followers on Instagram. The pharmaceutical and health industry has not lagged in these marketing strategies. Companies now prefer to pay an Instagram post from some influencer than buy some minutes of television or radio, advertising that we consume less and less given the subscription services that are replacing these two.

The pharmaceutical industry, however, is very different from, for example, that of fashion. It is different to recommend a cosmetic than medicine. What implications would recommend products from the health industry and what is the minimum we should ask celebrities?

Is it ethical?

On the one hand, a difference must be made between the products that are recommended. When advising on medical and pharmaceutical products, the influencers have a responsibility of more, because they are not already advising on fashion and style but it is about products that could affect our life and our body. To reflect on this, Vox cites two examples. The first one would be Erin Ziering, wife of the star doctor of Dr. 90210. Ziering would recommend on his Instagram a specific brand of breast implants. Although the celebrity used the hashtag #Ad in the caption of the post, this publication was read as a promotion of plastic surgery for women. The dangerous thing about this is that, on the one hand, a message is sent to women that surgery is recommended to boost their self-esteem, and, on the other, that they do not become aware of the real consequences of getting implants. In this way, the complete information is not being given to the followers but only recommending a product that has side effects.

Another example is that of Lesley Murphy, a reality show star who has a travel blog, who on her Instagram recommends a specific treatment to regain sensitivity in the breasts after having a double mastectomy. In his Instagram post, she recommends this treatment, but he writes her experience in his blog, in which he explains that the treatment was not even applied to it. Thus, ads paid to celebrities can be dangerous because, as settled, they are not always an organic and experiential recommendation.



Una publicación compartida de Lesley • The Road Les Traveled (@lesleyannemurphy) el


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It would be necessary to review and regulate, too, not only the product that is recommended (as I said above, be aware that recommending a brand of clothing is not the same as recommending an implant brand) but how it is recommended. This question is not new about what celebrities endorse: in Colombia, we have the most famous example of health advertising fraud with the Reduce Fat Fast campaign that Pibe Valderrama did. What is new is this form of marketing that uses social networks, which must also be considered. For this new type of advertising to be effective, it must not seem like advertising. Thus, the narrative of influencers in social networks makes us feel closer to these celebrities, as they are opening the doors of their privacy by telling us what products they use in their daily lives. So no matter how much they use hashtags to clarify that their publications are paid advertising, all the narrative of their networks compose an advertisement that their followers do not realize and consume more unconsciously, which makes it, to a certain extent, deceiving Vox says: "By enlisting influencers to market their health care products amid a stream of Facetuned photos, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies co-opt narratives that give social media users a sense of how healthy they can be, if only they had this product". In this way, the influencers are not only selling us a cure but a lifestyle that we could have if we bought one or the other product. And we all know, deep down, that El Pibe is healthy because he was an outstanding athlete in the nineties, not because he created Jorge Hané.


LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez Pabón

Translated from "¿Qué tanto sabe realmente su influencer favorito sobre salud?"