SINGAPORE: Ahead of the upcoming Budget 2018, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has been reaching out to social media influencers to promote the Budget and related public feedback sessions on Instagram.
Peppered with Budget-related hashtags such as #sgbudget2018 and #mofsgxstarngage, Instagram posts have sprung up promoting various pre-Budget feedback avenues such as the REACH Pre-Budget 2018 microsite and listening points across Singapore.
The posts also include sponsorship signposts such as the hashtag #sponsored.
“The Ministry of Finance is currently seeking our views on how businesses and individuals can work together for a better future! So hurry and head down to one of their listening points,” wrote Instagram user peroro_ in one such post on Jan 8.
In her post, which had a photo of her holding a phone, smiling at something off-camera, she added details for the listening points on Jan 9 and Jan 12 and also included a link to REACH’s Budget 2018 site in her Instagram bio.
The account has about 7,300 followers and as of Wednesday evening (Jan 17) her post had about 280 likes.
"With many Singaporeans obtaining information through online channels, especially younger audiences, MOF also publishes material on social media and partners other parties to share relevant content," a ministry spokesperson said in response to Channel NewsAsia's queries.
"In this effort, MOF reached out to a small group of online micro-influencers in Budget 2017 and Budget 2018 to provide bite-sized educational information on the Budget and to encourage youth participation in the Budget process," the spokesperson said.
"This year’s campaign is estimated to reach 225,000 users on Instagram. This is an effective way to engage with youth participants."
These influencers were paid "in line with market rate", the spokesperson said, adding that the ministry had reached out to more than 50 influencers.
One influencer, who did not want to be named, said he received S$100 for putting up his Instagram post.
Chelsea Teng, another influencer with about 5,600 Instagram followers, posted a photo of herself with a laptop and called for users to join her at a listening point.
As of Wednesday evening, her post had about 430 likes.
Ms Teng, who also works as a freelancer in the creative and events industries, said the Ministry of Finance had sponsored her Instagram post but declined to reveal how much she was paid.
The 24-year-old told Channel NewsAsia that she likes to take up different campaigns targeting different sectors, "not just limiting myself to beauty, fashion or travel".
"As I've reached the stage where I'm planning for my future and saving for a house, it's important that I'm more careful dealing with my finances," she added. "On top of the monetary token of appreciation we receive, the listening point was also a stone's throw away from where I was heading to that day."
Others posted pictures of themselves at specific listening points.
One such influencer was Royce Lee, who posted a photo of himself on Jan 9 at a listening point at Tanjong Pagar.
“In preparation for Budget 2018, REACH has organised Pre-Budget 2018 Listening Points across Singapore. These listening points are easily accessible, open booths for Singaporeans to give their views in person,” he wrote.
“Do join me at today’s listening point from now till 2pm at the covered area close to the multi-purpose hall at Tanjong Pagar Complex - loving the heritage feels and free ice cream heh.”
The 26-year-old, who has about 10,300 followers on Instagram, told Channel NewsAsia that the Ministry of Finance had approached his agency seeking influencers and that he had posted something similar in the run-up to last year’s Budget.
He added that although his account was not about financial matters, he found it interesting to learn “with every post, every engagement”.
“I usually wouldn’t Google Budget 2018 … but because of them approaching me, I could really understand what it was all about,” he said.
The Ministry of Finance last year announced that it was seeking views and suggestions from the public in preparation for Budget 2018 - which will be delivered on Feb 19 - through channels such as the REACH microsite and nine Pre-Budget 2018 listening points.
The feedback exercise closed last Friday.