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How Nova Scotia has used social media to nudge people to follow COVID-19 restrictions – CBC.ca

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While then premier Stephen McNeil implored people to “Stay the blazes home” during the first COVID-19 lockdown last year, Nova Scotia’s social media messaging has consistently taken a gentler, often humorous approach to encourage people to follow public health restrictions.

An undated photo shows a Nova Scotia health-care worker wearing personal protective equipment holding up a sticker that says, ‘I got my COVID-19 vaccine’ and a round Band-Aid with a smiley face drawn on it. Nova Scotia’s social media approach during the COVID-19 pandemic has adopted a similarly cheery tone. (Robert Short/CBC)

While then premier Stephen McNeil implored people to “Stay the blazes home” during the first COVID-19 lockdown last year, Nova Scotia’s social media messaging has consistently taken a gentler, often humorous approach to encourage people to follow public health restrictions.

Whether it’s two amorous Nova Scotians looking to “take things to the next level” by getting tested for COVID-19 or on “the worst Noël, the experts did say, limit our social circles and stay six feet away,” examples are abundant.

“In a heavy situation, it’s a way to break the ice with people,” said David Denny, the managing director of marketing for Communications Nova Scotia.

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He said the province’s social media channels have seen exponential growth since the pandemic began and record engagement on its posts.

For example, the province’s number of Facebook followers has tripled to almost 110,000 since the pandemic began, while its Instagram followers have increased almost tenfold to more than 36,000.

Denny attributes that in part to the videos that private companies have produced for the province to share on its social media channels.

Besides these videos, the province has paid for promoted posts, mainly on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These posts have included everything from geo-targeted promotion of a regional popup testing site to targeting a message to a specific demographic.

But it’s unclear how much this marketing effort has cost taxpayers.

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Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil made his ‘Stay the blazes home’ comment at a briefing in April 2020. (CBC)

A CBC News access-to-information request for invoices relating to the province’s COVID-19 social media marketing strategy revealed that 61 of the 196 invoices covering March 1, 2020, to July 15, 2021, did not have a total amount included. The incomplete invoices came from Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Invoices from the marketing firms and video production companies the province worked with included the full amounts. Part of that effort included working with paid influencers.

The use of influencers

“Sometimes people just don’t want to hear from government and the message is going to resonate more from a peer or someone that they feel is a peer, that they they look up to … they also have a larger [following] than we do, so it gets more eyeballs on the message and it sometimes can be delivered in a way that only that segment of the population can deliver it,” said Denny.

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One of those influencers is Halifax’s Alicia McCarvell, a body-positivity advocate who has 3.3 million followers on TikTok and 386,000 on Instagram.

The province paid Toronto marketing agency Shine Influencers $11,025 for McCarvell’s services for this video, as well as $15,687.50 to Canadian Content Studios to produce the video, which encourages people to get tested for COVID-19.

Another influencer, Andy Hay of Andy’s East Coast Kitchen, produced a video on how to make a Christmas dinner for under $50.

The province paid $3,955 to Toronto firm Diner Agency Inc. for the influencer partnership and video creation.

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Nova Scotia also used unpaid collaborations with local athletes and people within Black Nova Scotian and Indigenous communities to spread the word about getting vaccinated.

Dalhousie University marketing professor Mohammed El Hazzouri says Nova Scotia’s decision to use humour and thank people for following public health restrictions in their social media campaigns is effective. (Submitted by Mohammed El Hazzouri)

Dalhousie University marketing professor Mohammed El Hazzouri, who researches how people respond to public health messaging, said the province’s social media strategy adopts the right tone.

“When you use humour, when you are funny in your advertising, I think people are more receptive to that advertising,” he said. “People are not thinking about details of the advertisement or coming up with counter arguments to what you’re saying and so the message becomes more accepted.”

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Denny said that was part of the aim.

“That’s kind of our end goal because it was information that was important and information that at the end of the day was about keeping Nova Scotians safe,” he said. “And anything we could do to make that more shareable, we looked at.”

‘It’s a weird time’

At the end of some videos, a narrator thanks Nova Scotians for following public health restrictions.

“We know it’s a weird time and we know you get it, so thank you for staying home, following health advice and looking out for one another,” said the narrator.

El Hazzouri liked this.

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“I think this is very important, this acknowledgement of, ‘We’re working together on this,’” he said. “This is not a highly common approach. I haven’t seen it widely in Canada, so this one stood out for me, thanking Nova Scotians for following the rules.”

As the pandemic has evolved from staying home during the first lockdown to gradual reopenings and vaccinations — with some more lockdowns sprinkled in — Denny said the province is working to get more people vaccinated.

As of Friday, 75.9 per cent of Nova Scotians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“There are pockets of people who are harder to reach or who may be more hesitant,” said Denny. “We’ve taken steps to reach them and through targeted marketing efforts.”

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But while the province’s social media messaging has consistently offered a carrot to people, recent policies such as proof of vaccination to participate in non-essential activities and mandatory vaccinations for provincial civil servants amount to more of a stick.

“With these new policies in place … hopefully, that encourages people to to get vaccinated,” said Denny.

View Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 social media invoices covering March 1, 2020, to July 15, 2021.

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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How many hashtags should you use to get the most ‘Likes’ on Instagram?

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Hashtags are a key feature of Instagram posts. In fact, they have become an essential means of ensuring more ‘Likes’ on social media – so long as you choose them wisely.

But how many hashtags should you use to maximise your popularity on the social network? The answer might surprise you.

It’s a question that many Instagram users ask themselves: what’s the right number of hashtags to add to a post? To find out, the Later platform analysed 18 million Instagram posts, excluding videos, Reels and Stories.

Interestingly, Later’s results differ from Instagram’s own recommendations. According to Later’s analysis, using more hashtags helps get better results in terms of “reach”, or the percentage of users exposed to the post. By using 20 hashtags, Later observed an optimal average reach rate of just under 36%. Using 30 hashtags gets the next-best reach rate. With five hashtags, reach hits just under 24%.

And while a post’s reach is important, engagement is even more so. From “Likes” and comments to shares and follows – on average, 30 hashtags appears to result in better engagement rates: “When it comes to average engagement rate, using 30 Instagram hashtags per feed post results in the most likes and comments,” says Later’s research.

Yet, at the end of September 2021, Instagram advised its creators to use between three and five hashtags for their posts, while warning them against using too many. The social network advised that using 10 to 20 hashtags per post “will not help you get additional distribution”.

For Later, there could be other reasons behind Instagram’s recommendations: “As Instagram continues to expand their discoverability and SEO tools, it makes sense that they want users to experiment with fewer, more relevant hashtags – this could help them accurately categorise and recommend your posts in suggested content streams, like the Instagram Reels feed or the updated hashtag search tabs,” the website explains. – AFP Relaxnews

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