A content analysis of Canadian influencers’ crisis posts on Instagram and the public response during COVID-19

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BMC Public Health. 2022 Apr 15;22(1):763. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-13129-5.

ABSTRACT

Successful mitigation of emerging infectious diseases requires the public to adopt recommended behaviors, which are directly influenced by effective crisis communication. Social media has become an important communication channel during COVID-19 where officials, influencers and the public co-create crisis messages. Our research examined COVID-19-related crisis messaging in Canadian influencer accounts within news media, politicians, public health and government, science communicators, brand influencers and celebrities, posted on Instagram between December 2019 and March 2021 for Health Belief Model and Extended Parallel Treatment model constructs and corresponding public comment sentiment and engagement. Thirty-three influencer accounts generated a total of 2,642 Instagram posts collected, along with 461,436 comments, which showed low overall use of constructs in captions and images. Additionally, most posts used no combination (n=0 or 1 construct per post) of constructs in captions and images and very rarely used captions that combined threat (severity and susceptibility) with indices of threat. action and efficiency. Brand influencers and celebrities, politicians and science communicators had above average post engagement, while public health, government and news media had a lower rate. Finally, most influencers saw the highest proportion of neutral sentiment comments. Crisis messages should be designed to include combinations of concepts that increase message acceptance and influence risk perception and effectiveness to increase adoption of recommended and mandated behaviors.

PMID:35428287 | DOI:10.1186/s12889-022-13129-5

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Jenny T. Curlee