The Ministry of Finance in Singapore has reportedly paid for more than fifty influencers on popular social media site Instagram to promote its budget for the year 2018. The move was aimed at spreading awareness about the budget among the Singaporean youth.
Instagram influencers were selected on the basis of their following and some people were chosen owing to their outreach and popularity among the youth but also with a substantial fan base on the site. These influencers posted information pertaining to the budget, encouraging their followers to study the budget and to share feedback. Most of these influencers have a following between thirteen hundred and thirty-five thousand. Many of these influencers have shared stories and personal opinions about how the budget affects them. These posts have been tagged on Instagram as sponsored.
The Ministry of Finance has confirmed the campaign, which is expected to spread awareness among over two hundred thousand Instagram users in Singapore. However, the spokesperson of the ministry who confirmed that the campaign was indeed funded did not disclose the amount of money spent on the exercise. She simply stated that the spending was as per the prevailing market rates. This is not the first time the government or any ministry has used social media to spread awareness but paying influencers to generate enough interest has not happened on such a scale in the past. Sponsored posts in general, online advertisements and messaging have been witnessed in the past though. Reportedly, the Ministry of Finance has paid influencers to promote the previous annual budget as well but it was on a much smaller scale. This time the ministry decided to hire a marketing company to help with the outreach.
The marketing company hired for the job used a thousand followers as the benchmark. There were other criteria such as engagement, likes, comments and relative popularity of the profiles. People like Cheng Kai Ting, a property agent and blogger, with a following of twenty one thousand and eight hundred, were roped in. Ting posted on Instagram that the people should study the budget to plan their finances for a better future. All influencers were required to post at least once and they had to provide a link redirecting users to the budget webpage.
It is unclear how the ministry plans to measure the return on the investment. It is also ambiguous right now if the campaign will have any effect. Many posts of these chosen influencers have been liked by hundreds of people but there are very few comments. In most cases, there are fewer than twenty comments, which perhaps prove that people are not actually engaging in discussions related to the budget. On the flip side, engaging with the youth on social media is a viable option. Most young people don’t read newspapers. They are not necessarily glued to political updates, the way older people are. The youth is largely uninvolved in policymaking and many don’t stay abreast of crucial changes being brought about by the government.
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