Dominic Packer Explains How to Use Student Influencers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The psychology professor explains how schools can successfully use student influencers to warn peers about coronavirus.

Story by

Emily Collins

Business Insider featured Dominic Packer, professor of psychology, in the article "Universities are paying student influencers to warn their peers about coronavirus. A social psychologist explains how that could backfire-and how schools can get it right."

The article mentions that consumer brands have used influencer partnerships for years, but now colleges and universities in the U.S. are hiring their own students to influence their peers to wear masks, practice social distancing, and stay healthy.

Experts, including Packer, suggest that when educational organizations start pulling from the marketer's playbook, it can easily register as inauthentic.

"As a general principle, it makes a lot of sense to want to try to shape opinion using spokespeople and role models who students feel a connection to," said Packer. "Colleges will need to keep certain priorities in mind for the method to have the best results," he adds.

Packer says people seek guidance from those with whom they share an identity and they tend to follow leaders they view as "one of them."

"If you're really going to engage in this kind of social influence strategy successfully, you need those role models to represent the diversity of the community," said Packer.

Packer also noted it's important schools involve their students in the planning and decision-making process, rather than asking them to promote the plan after the fact.

The full article can be read on the Business Insider website.

Story by

Emily Collins

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