Are Instagram health influencers primarily advertisers?

The pandemic has put health at the center of concern, even though it was already an important value in our societies. Influential accounts are taking over on social networks. Isn’t there a risk of confusion between advertising and medical advice?

Major movement, Léa’s pharmaceutical council, princesseperinee, here are some health influencers who are a hit on social networks. These health professionals 2.0 have taken over Instagram, TikTok, and even YouTube. Whether they are physiotherapists, midwives, doctors, pharmacists or dentists, they accumulate members: more than 400,000 for major mouvement, almost 100,000 for charline.sagefemme and princesseperinee.

A phenomenon that is not surprising since, as Viviane Clavier and Céline Paganelli, professor-researchers in information and communication sciences explain, ” health has established itself as a fundamental value in Western societies for many years “This trend has only strengthened since the start of the pandemic.

Faced with such enthusiasm, influencer agencies have decided to develop in the health sector. This is the case of the Fraich Touch which, as indicated on its website, counts in its ” talent “Many health workers among the” more influential “. A real catalog for brands so that they can request them.

The health influencer market

The agency acts as an intermediary between influencers and corporate clients. “He’s like a classic celebrity agent “Says Stéphanie Laporte, director of digital social media agency Otta. She also takes care of all legal and contractual aspects. The agency will then receive a commission on the various collaborations.

Among the services for which it is possible to solicit influencers is the loan of the brand image. ” It’s the equivalent of I am Valérie Damidot, buy your wallpaper in Saint-Maclou “, explains Stephanie Laporte. They may also be referred to as lecturers and lecturers due to their experience in their field. Brands can also remunerate them for ” visibility on the web “and some” creation of content for digital media “.

Influencers know how to make insta reels, TikTok, and brands are often helpless when it comes to this adds the director of Otta. “The healthcare sector wants to freshen up. It is still highly encoded. Health influencers will bring that freshness and rejuvenate the audience. “

The agency’s different health professionals can be called upon for different services. Source: Fraich Touch

In short, classic advertising with today’s digital codes and tools and an extra touch: the highlighting of “authenticity”. A strong argument for convincing followers. “Influencers are prescribers. Their particularity lies in the way information is passed on to young people, knowing that they are more sensitive to transmissions of unofficial information.“, Supports Céline Paganelli and Viviane Clavier.

muses for advertisers

According to Gilles Lipovetsky, philosopher and author of Sacred authenticity, brands promote authenticity because it has become a factor of trust. ” Influencers have an image of authenticity because they don’t appear institutionalized as marketers. They are young, they mix consumer advice with their private life. There is an aspect of familiarity, of closeness, which today is associated with authenticity.

While they do benefit from this aura, these health influencers are nonetheless, for the most part, institutionalized. A point that people who sign up aren’t always aware of, influencers and influencers aren’t obligated to declare themselves part of an influence agency. For Goulven Cornech, co-founder of Fraich Touch, it’s not about advertising but about ” informative collaboration “:” Communicating for a brand yes, sending sponsored messages, ok, but from there selling a product no.

If the initial approach is inserted in an information and scientific dissemination perspective, many develop partnerships with companies in the health sector in parallel. Their status as health professionals, which gives them considerable credibility on the one hand, and the fact that they are widely followed on the networks, on the other, make them muses of choice for advertisers.

Fraich Touch’s various clients include mutual insurance, public health organizations, sports application, teleconsultation platforms, dietary supplement brands, pharmaceutical laboratories. Thus, we can see that a doctor has among his collaborations Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical laboratory specializing in the treatment of diabetes.

Are Instagram health influencers primarily advertisers?
Source: Fraich Touch

While on the profile of a midwife, Evian, Mont Roucous or even the menstrual panty brand Elia is shown collaborating with many other influencers of the agency as well.

Are Instagram health influencers primarily advertisers?
Source: Fraich Touch

Under each sponsored post, influencers have a legal obligation, from the very first lines: ” affix the mention ‘sponsored by’ or in ‘collaboration with’ also for information and prevention campaigns “Says Stéphanie Laporte. A mention that doesn’t always appear late, like in this Instagram post made by a pharmacy doctor for a brand of dietary supplement against hair loss, and in which you have to unroll a long description to see that it is a collaboration.

Are Instagram health influencers primarily advertisers?
Source: Instagram / lea.pharma.councils.

“Health is not a businessAnd”

A decree of December 2020 abolished a ban common to health professions subject to ordinance: the ban on ” all direct or indirect advertising processes “A suppression that has amplified the phenomenon of health influencers, since the regulatory framework is less restrictive.

This decree was put in place so that doctors can inform patients about their care practices, not to advertise. For example, I am a midwife and I deal with perineal rehabilitation “, Explains Marianne Benoit Truong Canh, vice president of the national council of the order of midwives. The ban on commercial practices still remains in force. “ You cannot associate a caregiver with any commercial brand. It is not possible.

“This decree was put in place so that doctors can inform patients about their care practices, not to advertise. “

Marianne Benoit Truong Canh, Vice President of the National Council of Midwives

For Geneviève Wagner, chairman of the exercise and ethics commission of the board of the order of dentists, the same story says: “ The law is very clear, the text was done with all the health ordinances and the general direction of health. We do not stop with the public health code (CSP) as the code of ethics is an integral part of the CSP. Health is not a business. A principle that even TikTok, Instagram and Youtube cannot derogate from.

In a context in which disinterested health information is increasingly popular with the general public, this re-appropriation of social networks by commercial companies and through influencers raises serious problems of independence. However, this independence is essential to ensure that the patient’s health interests remain at the fore.

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