How Nova Scotia has used social media to nudge people to follow COVID-19 restrictions

While then premier Stephen McNeil implored people to “Stay the blazes dwelling” through the first COVID-19 lockdown final yr, Nova Scotia’s social media messaging has persistently taken a gentler, typically humorous method to encourage people to follow public well being restrictions. Whether it is two amorous Nova Scotians trying to “take issues to the following degree” by getting examined for COVID-19 or on “the worst Noël, the consultants did say, restrict our social circles and keep six ft away,” examples are ample. “In a heavy state of affairs, it is a manner to break the ice with people,” stated David Denny, the managing director of selling for Communications Nova Scotia. He stated the province’s social media channels have seen exponential progress for the reason that pandemic started and file engagement on its posts. For instance, the province’s variety of Facebook followers has tripled to nearly 110,000 for the reason that pandemic started, whereas its Instagram followers have elevated nearly tenfold to greater than 36,000. Denny attributes that partly to the movies that non-public firms have produced for the province to share on its social media channels. Besides these movies, the province has paid for promoted posts, primarily on platforms resembling Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These posts have included all the pieces from geo-targeted promotion of a regional popup testing web site to concentrating on a message to a selected demographic. But it is unclear how a lot this advertising effort has value taxpayers. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil made his ‘Stay the blazes dwelling’ remark at a briefing in April 2020. (CBC) A CBC News access-to-information request for invoices relating to the province’s COVID-19 social media advertising technique revealed that 61 of the 196 invoices masking March 1, 2020, to July 15, 2021, didn’t have a complete quantity included. The incomplete invoices got here from Facebook, Twitter and Google. Invoices from the advertising corporations and video manufacturing firms the province labored with included the total quantities. Part of that effort included working with paid influencers. The use of influencers “Sometimes people simply don’t desire to hear from authorities and the message goes to resonate extra from a peer or somebody that they really feel is a peer, that they they give the impression of being up to … in addition they have a bigger [following] than we do, so it will get extra eyeballs on the message and it generally could be delivered in a manner that solely that phase of the inhabitants can ship it,” stated Denny. One of these influencers is Halifax’s Alicia McCarvell, a body-positivity advocate who has 3.3 million followers on TikTok and 386,000 on Instagram. The province paid Toronto advertising company Shine Influencers $11,025 for McCarvell’s companies for this video, in addition to $15,687.50 to Canadian Content Studios to produce the video, which inspires people to get examined for COVID-19. Another influencer, Andy Hay of Andy’s East Coast Kitchen, produced a video on how to make a Christmas dinner for below $50. The province paid $3,955 to Toronto agency Diner Agency Inc. for the influencer partnership and video creation. Nova Scotia additionally used unpaid collaborations with native athletes and people inside Black Nova Scotian and Indigenous communities to unfold the phrase about getting vaccinated. Dalhousie University advertising professor Mohammed El Hazzouri says Nova Scotia’s choice to use humour and thank people for following public well being restrictions of their social media campaigns is efficient. (Submitted by Mohammed El Hazzouri) Dalhousie University advertising professor Mohammed El Hazzouri, who researches how people reply to public well being messaging, stated the province’s social media technique adopts the suitable tone. “When you employ humour, if you find yourself humorous in your promoting, I believe people are extra receptive to that promoting,” he stated. “People aren’t fascinated about particulars of the commercial or developing with counter arguments to what you are saying and so the message turns into extra accepted.” Denny stated that was a part of the purpose. “That’s form of our finish purpose as a result of it was data that was essential and knowledge that on the finish of the day was about retaining Nova Scotians secure,” he stated. “And something we may do to make that extra shareable, we checked out.” ‘It’s a bizarre time’ At the top of some movies, a narrator thanks Nova Scotians for following public well being restrictions. “We know it is a bizarre time and we all know you get it, so thanks for staying dwelling, following well being recommendation and searching for each other,” stated the narrator. El Hazzouri favored this. “I believe this is essential, this acknowledgement of, ‘We’re working collectively on this,'” he stated. “This isn’t a extremely frequent method. I have never seen it broadly in Canada, so this one stood out for me, thanking Nova Scotians for following the principles.” As the pandemic has advanced from staying dwelling through the first lockdown to gradual reopenings and vaccinations — with some extra lockdowns sprinkled in — Denny stated the province is working to get extra people vaccinated. As of Friday, 75.9 per cent of Nova Scotians had been totally vaccinated towards COVID-19. “There are pockets of people who’re tougher to attain or who could also be extra hesitant,” stated Denny. “We’ve taken steps to attain them and thru focused advertising efforts.” But whereas the province’s social media messaging has persistently provided a carrot to people, latest insurance policies resembling proof of vaccination to take part in non-essential actions and obligatory vaccinations for provincial civil servants quantity to extra of a stick. “With these new insurance policies in place … hopefully, that encourages people to to get vaccinated,” stated Denny. View Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 social media invoices masking March 1, 2020, to July 15, 2021.

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