It’s been revealed the federal government has splashed out hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on social media stars to publish photos on their Instagram feeds.
The posts were designed to promote a women’s health campaign, but experts claim the tactic could be doing more harm than good.
So-called “influencer” Kate Nutting is one person engaged in the campaign. She does not have fitness or dietary qualifications – her power lies in her Instagram profile and 17,000-strong following.
“My Instagram page is basically just everything me, so it’s what I’m doing, what I’m eating, what I’m wearing, what I’m up to,” she said.
The Health Department has paid Kate and dozens of others a lot of money to target young female followers with posts about their healthy lifestyles.
“It’s a way that the government can connect with young women and young people that no other medium offers them,” Kate said.
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But data analysts say the more than $700,000 spent on “influencers” over three years wasn’t worth it.
“They didn’t take the time to vet them to see whether or not they were good and were going to be effective and influential for the campaign,” Lumio Analytics CEO Dan Anisse said.
Much of the money was spent as part of the ‘Girls Make Your Move’ campaign, which encourages young women to be more active.
While the aim was admirable, experts say the use of social media can often do more harm than good and encourage low self-esteem.
“They’re highly selective images, so when people compare themselves to people in the images they generally think that they look less attractive,” said Jasmine Fardouly, from Macquarie University’s Centre for Emotional Health.
The Minister for Health declined an interview, but released a statement, saying a review was being launched and that he did not endorse the posts, finding them “offensive.”
The agency responsible no longer has the government contract.