New online influencer register launches to combat misinformation in health and wellness

It’s time to uphold health and wellness influencers work to a high standard of practice when producing consumer content

However, it’s funny when you think about the fact that most influencers do not like the term influencers at all.

I believe that the term is not bad per se, yet the connotation is from or derivative of what an influencer is (the social influencers in my first book, Make an Impact)

Why is influence such a bad thing?

Could it be because we associate it with the idea of persuading people?

Persuasion does get a bad rep, but it is objectively the next logical step to be taken into account after influence takes place.

Celebrities and public figures alike persuade you to take a specific action or make a specific decision

Persuasion is still pretty much about what you want to achieve, rather a genuine way to help others take actions to benefit their own needs.

By reframing the idea of persuasion as part of the process of recommending something that can benefit a wider audience, we can clearly see that brands like Trip Advisor and Airbnb have been built on this model (if you haven’t read it, Robert Cialdini’s Influence is a great book to start with)

This would not truly be an issue, if not for the fact that influencers (just like some celebrities) seem to be monetising fame over expertise

This is where the whole idea of what an influencer is needs to change

Once again, I appreciate I may be biased, but since creating the Health Bloggers Community over five years ago, I have seen my fair share of influencers, bloggers and content creators.

I have seen people who are amazing writers, knowledgeable experts and amazing content creators alike.

The way that I categorise influencers for our businesses can clarify how I perceive influencers on the whole:

  • experts, professionals and bloggers: these are the members of the HBC, our students and mainly the readers of our online magazine. They create content in a variety of ways but their expertise is what truly shines through
  • content creators these are the members of our marketplace, Whole Influence. We are looking for people who can create amazing and engaging content, putting the quality of their photography, videography and overall content creation first (more info on our benchmarking can be found here)

I believe that influencers are meant to add value to their audience, whether it’s via education, motivation or inspiration

I want people to be proud to use such a term as a way to describe part of their skillsets, rather than shying away from it.

This is the reason why we created something called the Register of Health and Wellness influencers after all.

Making a positive impact is what can truly turn influence into a powerful catalyst

My hope is that I can provide people with the support and guidance to do the same to others.

Influencers have been painted in a bad light especially by the mainstream media (a fellow member of the Branded Content Marketing Association wondered whether the main media is feeling threatened?)

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If you have been on the internet in the past month or so, I am about share will probably not come to you as news — but, according to a study conducted at the University of Glasgow, only one out of nine UK bloggers actually provided accurate information about their health and weight management.

“We found that the majority of the blogs could not be considered credible sources of weight management information, as they often presented opinion as fact and failed to meet UK nutritional criteria,” said the study’s lead author Christina Sabbagh. “This is potentially harmful, as these blogs reach such a wide audience.”

Chairmen of the National Obesity Forum, Tam Fry, added thoughts about the study online:

This study adds to the evidence of the destructive power of social media. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can take to the ether, post whatever they like and be believed by their followers. Particularly unfortunate is that the genie is now firmly out of the bottle and getting these bloggers to conform to standards, though desirable, will be nigh impossible.

This is where we see the issue laying. If we do not strive to support bloggers and influencers to learn how to provide, share credible and reliable content, we are simply brushing everything under the carpet and throwing our hands in the air.

If you know me, this is definitely NOT how I roll. I created a community of thousands of bloggers and influencers, and I truly believe in the power of education.

Educating is key — just thought I’d repeat that to add some gravitas.

Yesterday marked the launch of The Register of Health & Wellness Influencers (ROHWI), the first and only independent register for Influencers creating health and wellness content worldwide.

The register was co-founded by WellSpoken and the Health Bloggers Community, to proactively manage growing concerns on the conduct and content produced by health and wellness influencers.

The research undertaken by the organisations behind the register found a growing number of people were dubious about the information shared online:

  • 74% of consumers surveyed identified that the least trustworthy health and wellness information was found on social media(1)
  • 76% of both brands and influencers surveyed indicated that stronger regulations would make them feel more secure and confident about working together on collaborations.(2)
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The primary objective of the register is to protect the public interest by ensuring that health and wellness influencers work to a high standard of practice when producing consumer content.

Influencers also have a responsibility to work with brands in an ethical manner as well as being fully aware of how to be transparent about their advertising work.

Sarah Greenidge, founder of The WellSpoken Mark and co-founder of the register says

“The current lack of industry-specific legislation has meant that consumers and other stakeholders have been active players in holding influencers accountable. While there is an infinite number of ways in which credible content can be curated, our training and framework, will ultimately raise existing industry standards by ensuring that influencers now have a standardised way of working when it comes to content.”

We have reached out to so many influencers before launching and to be honest it was a mixed bag.

Getting people to take on a mantle of accountability and adapt their way of working is not an easy road to travel especially if it is financially rewarding to continue to keep the status quo.

Pete Wells, ukactive and ROHWI council member says “Credible information has the power to influence the consumer’s decision-making process and drive positive uptake when it comes to choosing a wellness product or service to opt into. The impact of misinformation can be unthinkable, none more so than that concerning our health and wellbeing. This register is the first step towards creating a tailored framework for health and wellness influencers to work towards ”

If you are a health and wellness influencer that produces content to inform the public and works in partnership with brands you need to be on this register.

You need to be working to an industry standard and you need to be held to account for both your conduct and content.

Our hope is that the Wild Wild West era of wellness is drawing to a close.

The register of Health & Wellness Influencers (RoHWI) is a voluntary register for influencers working in the field of health and wellness.

Our council is supported by a network of specialist teams, advisory committees, and partners. We regularly consult healthcare professionals and other key stakeholders, to get their views on the work we do.

This is underpinned our core values: transparency, collaboration and responsiveness, and a commitment to offering credible health and wellness content to the public.

Applications for the register are now open here

References

  1. WellSpoken 2017 survey. .500 UK respondents. Data on file
  2. HBC 2018 Influencer Marketing for Wellness Report Q1

Written by

Award-Winning Marketing Consultant || 🥑 Founder creativeimpact.group || ✍ Author fabgiovanetti.com || 👉 Podcast for Marketers: altmarketingschool.com/podcast

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