Skip to main content
Blog Post

Using the Power of Influencers to Create Behavior Change

January 8, 2017

Using the Power of Influencers to Create Behavior Change

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Enough with the Puff

Young adults (18-29) represent a critical audience for public health: They may engage in risky behaviors, lack insurance coverage, and possess a sense of invincibility when it comes to their health. In particular, non-college attending or “straight-to-work” young adults are a critical audience: They are targeted by the tobacco industry, smoke at higher rates than the general population, and are likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke at work. Their tobacco use is sporadic and frequently associated with drinking alcohol. As such, they may not self-identify as a “smoker” or respond to traditional cessation messages.

Their mindset and lifestyle make them a challenge to reach. Their media consumption habits and lack of trust in paid media advertising make getting their attention and believing messages close to impossible. Instead of trying to convince young adults to listen to what the state health department has to say about tobacco, we engaged the people young adults trust to carry the message.
SE2 and its partner August United hired nearly three-dozen Colorado-based influencers (i.e., local social media celebrities) to share their struggles with tobacco addiction, the impact tobacco has had on their life, and why they are choosing not to smoke. They shared their stories through their personal social media profiles.
The Outcome Our influencers created nearly one-hundred posts containing anti-tobacco messaging. Their content included tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and Instagram images.
Influencers’ personal voice and relationship with their followers gave the campaign and messaging authenticity that we could have never created without their participation.
That authenticity, partnered with original, unique creative broke through and engaged the audience. We generated over 22,000 engagements on social media, with many of those engagement including our key audience sharing personal stories about tobacco addiction and messages to friends encouraging them to quit.

“This is above and beyond what I had expected for the influencer content – but I’m thoroughly impressed with the engagement and the execution here. We had some concerns about influencers – but this would be a great example of how this can be done well and be effective in broadening our reach.” –Jess Harvat