Tuesday June 30, 2020 ~ VICTORIA, BC
by Meaghan Power ~ West Shore Voice News | Editor: Mary Brooke
BC’s own Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry took over the Instaverse today. HBO’s The Newsroom actor Olivia Munn handed over her 2.6 million follower Instagram account to Dr. Henry as part of the One’s #PassTheMic fundraiser today June 30.
This event had COVID-19 public health experts take over celebrity social media accounts to answer public questions. Munn uploaded a short video today with the caption, “I am honored to hand mine to Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia. I hope you will listen to what she has to say”.
Munn has a celebrity profile for many roles including in The Newsroom (2012-2014), as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (2010-2011), and in the blockbuster movie X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). This attracts an audience of young adults who follow celebrities online.
Dr Henry’s first post:
Dr. Henry’s “takeover” started at 8:00 a.m. with a biographical post, including her contributions to polio eradication in Pakistan and the Ebola outbreak in Uganda. In the post, she highlighted the need for the global community to stay informed and look out for each other. Responses to the post were from Canadians praising her kind, smart, and compassionate nature, commending her for her efforts as “BC’s hero”.
Some of the comments were glowingly positive!
- “Yay Dr Bonnie! We are so fortunate to have her leading us in this nightmare.”
- “We are so lucky to have her leading our BC response, what a superstar!”
- “So grateful for Dr Henry!! So proud to live in beautiful British Columbia.”
Several negative comments were suggesting the number of COVID-19 cases reported was inflated, and a user who stated they had wished “(she) remembered the pandemic during the protests.”
Income equity factor:
One hour later, she uploaded a short video poignantly imploring Munn’s followers to learn from this first wave to save lives, “rich or poor, we all need to support each other, so no one is left behind.”
In a graceful commentary, she also took aim at the growing political divisiveness of the COVID-19 response of our neighbours to the south stating, “the only way that we can support each other through this is by recognizing it does no good to blame, single out, or stigmatize people who have this disease.”
Comments to this post were incredibly positive, calling her a “national treasure” and several international commenting they wanted to move to British Columbia.
Reaching the young adult audience:
Dr. Henry’s final post was tailored to the age group of Munn’s Instagram audience, the majority of whom fall into the 25-34 age demographic. The post asked followers to take responsibility for their actions to protect those most at risk during the pandemic, emphasizing that “each generation needs to look out for each other” Once again, her comment section was filled with praise and users, advising others to follow her advice.
Young adults in the 20 to 49 age group are now experiencing more COVID-19 infections in the USA. In that context, her messaging today could have focussed a bit more on encourage those in the working-age population to be attentive to the seriousness of COVID-19 and continue their physical distancing, hand washing, wearing a mask, and staying home if they’re sick.
A gentle use of social media:
Although the comment section would suggest a very successful “takeover”, it is noted that Dr. Henry did not provide responses to the commenters.
A number of commenters asked questions that could have deepened the conversation and would have added a personal note to her “takeover” instead of uploading only professional media and pre-written captions. But she leveraged the platform well, through the provision of essential messages with her trademark poise and calm.