Influencers and Inaccurate Information

A UK study checked out 9 popular influencers who shared information on weight loss. Each one had multiple social media platforms, 80,000 or more followers on at least one social media platform, and a regularly-posted weight loss blog.

8 out of 9 of these influencers were judged not credible by the researchers. What were the criteria?

  • Presenting opinions as facts.
  • Failing to provide evidence or references for claims.
  • Presenting recipes that didn’t meet health standards (8 of 9 did this).
  • Failing to offer a disclaimer clarifying that they weren’t medical professionals.

The researchers, from the University of Glasgow, concluded that weight loss bloggers ought to be regulated so they wouldn’t continue to mislead consumers. That’s probably not going to happen in the United States.

However, if you use influencers for your content marketing — or you are an influencer yourself — you should be paying attention.

Don’t be part of the problem

You might not agree with the University of Glasgow researchers on their criteria; perhaps you figure that mommy blogger is obviously not a medical professional and shouldn’t have to remind users of that fact. But asking your influencer to link to solid references sure makes sense. Checking the health value of recipes (or having your influencer use one of the excellent nutrition labeling tools available) is smart.

Are you an influencer in the health and wellness space? Make sure your blog is trustworthy by providing appropriate references and fact-checking before you post.

Be part of the solution

Recent research has clearly shown that inaccurate health information is an enormous issue. More than half of the answers to typical health information questions on page 1 of the SERPs are inaccurate.

What’s more, the more accessible and digestible websites — and that includes weight loss bloggers — are more likely to be read by consumers. Your information may be more accurate, but that won’t solve the problem unless searchers find it and read it. Your content needs to be easy to read and to understand, visually appealing, and findable with search engines.

Both the examples below are good websites that came up on Google’s search engine results pages. The first example was the first actual medical facility to show up — on page 3. It has accurate information and very limited visual appeal.

The second example, below, showed up at #1 on Google, and has a good deal of visual appeal.

 

We have no connection with either of these sites, but we know that visitors spend less than 12 seconds deciding whether to stay and explore or not.

If you use influencers as part of your content marketing, or you provide health-related information which competes with influencers, you need to be aware of both accuracy and appeal.

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