In a time of crisis, Finland is calling in the cavalry: social media influencers.
Helsinki has classified social media influencers as critical actors to society during a crisis, along with doctors, bus drivers and grocery store workers. Finland says it is the only country in the world that has defined social media as a critical operator.
The role of influencers during a crisis is to disseminate information on social media.
“We are aware that government communication doesnt reach everyone. Before this was possible through traditional media like television, but today especially young people get their news through social media,” said Aapo Riihimäki, a communications specialist at the Finnish prime ministers office.
The drive is a collaboration between the Finnish government, the countrys national emergency supply agency and PING Helsinki, a social media influencer consultancy. Though nobody could predict the coronavirus pandemic, Finland has been preparing for a crisis of its magnitude for decades. The countrys national emergency supply agency joins forces with the public sector and industry to secure the countrys key functions during a national emergency.
“If we can get a high school student with around 1,000 followers to share information, that is valuable too” — Inna-Pirjetta Lahti, CEO of PING Helsinki
PING Helsinki edits the governments messages into a social media-friendly format, and sends it to its networks of some 1,500 influencers. Influencers are free to use the messages and images as they want.
“This is an honor,” said Inari Fernández, a professional social media influencer with a monthly YouTube audience of 100,000 viewers and 34,000 Instagram followers.
Fernández posts the governments coronavirus guidance in her Instagram Stories several times a week, slotted in between her usual content on life in Lapland and family life raising two kids. Instagram Stories allow users to post pictures and videos that stay visible for 24 hours.
Influencers participate voluntarily and do not get paid. “I would refuse a fee. This is our duty as citizens,” Fernández continued.
Fernández was one of the first influencers to join the drive just days after Finland went into lockdown in mid-March.
The influencers quick mobilization was possible because they have been part of Finlands emergency contingency plans for nearly two years. Social media influencers were added to the pool of essential actors a year and a half ago, after the media section of the national emergency supply organization realized traditional media would not be enough to reach the whole nation in a crisis.