Influencing Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Online Influencers, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Influencing Health

A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Online Influencers, 1st Edition

By Amelia Burke-Garcia

Productivity Press

272 pages | 10 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367249922
pub: 2019-07-18
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Hardback: 9780367260392
pub: 2019-07-18
Available for pre-order

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The U.S., and countries across the globe, are facing an ever-evolving series of health issues. Locally, we face issues of obesity, food deserts, child hunger, poor maternal health outcomes, and the resurgence of communicable diseases because of the anti-vaccination movement. We talk about health in a vacuum – we see health information as only being appropriate for health-related contexts- when people are looking for health information, they go to health websites. But if we are to make health an important piece of our everyday lives, then we need to weave it into everyday conversations and experiences. Ultimately, we need to normalize the conversation around health. However, the world of online influence is bigger and more diverse than just a series of digital tools- and more and more, we are engaging with them for health-related information. The emergence of everyday online opinion leaders has created a whole new market for shifting consumer perceptions and behaviors. In fact, many of these everyday online opinion leaders have built such large social media presences that they now have a voice, the platform, and the following to reach millions of people with personal points of view on any number of topics. The opportunities for engaging with online influencers to support marketing and health promotion programs are great; however, navigating this online community is new to many people. Understanding how this online community works, the opportunities for paid and unpaid engagements, and the value that health programs, specifically, have with this community, is paramount to successfully working with online influencers. This book draws from research with over 400 online influencers, the latest industry data, and practical, real-world experiences working with influencers over the past ten years. An easy-to-read guidebook for marketers and health communicators alike, this book leverages storytelling as a means for sharing lessons learned and providing readers with practical knowledge about the online marketing industry and influencer community.


"In regularly working with Dr. Amelia Burke-Garcia on influencer marketing initiatives over the past several years, specifically for clients in the public health and wellness space, I've seen her passion and deep knowledge about the field and her work firsthand. She is one of the most well-organized, articulate and strategic partners I've worked with, and unlike many marketing practitioners, she approaches social media and influencer work with the sound reasoning and trained eye of a great researcher. Dr. Burke-Garcia’s dedication to matching the needs of her health clients with influencers who authentically engage their audiences on relevant topics, paired with her creativity, strong work ethic and solutions-based approach to influencer marketing, have resulted directly in the success of one campaign after another. Within my company, we consider her a valued partner, and when she shares insights, ideas and case studies from her work, others should sit up and take notice." Erin Olson, vice president, client services, The Motherhood influencer marketing agency

"Strategic use of new methods for communicating health messages effectively in a digital-first world is critically important to ensuring that the right message gets shared and understood by the right person at the right moment. Unfortunately, there are not many authors with the relevant expertise needed to effectively guide strategic digital health communication. Dr. Amelia Burke-Garcia, however, is one of the most well qualified experts for guiding evolving digital health communication technologies, policies, and practices . Her vast experiences in digital health, coupled with her clear and conversational writing style, enables her to connect directly with readers to help them make informed choices about the best use of digital health communication. I highly recommend her important new book, Influencing Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Online Influencers to everyone studying or using digital health information systems." — Gary L. Kreps, PhD, University Distinguished Professor of Communication, Director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication, George Mason University

"More than half the world’s population uses the Internet to find information and connect with family, friends, and neighbors. Almost half are active on social media platforms. Understanding and leveraging this digital ecosystem are critical to improving the health of our nation. Amelia Burke-Garcia is a nationally recognized expert who has created evidence-based digital media strategies that not only raise awareness about important health topics such as cancer, infectious disease, and birth defects, but also motivate and measure health behavior change. This book describes her pioneering work with digital influencers, making it a must-read for all public health professionals." — Terry Savage, M.A., vice president at Westat Health Communications and the Society for Health Communication

"Many of us who work in communication and marketing are easily swept up in the latest technology and social media channels without having the evidence to support of our decisions or a strategy to drive our activities. We are at a critical moment with influencer marketing, and this burgeoning field, which is expected to grow to a $10 billion industry by 2020, is desperately in need of supporting data, thoughtful research, and an evidence-based approach to guide today’s brands and organizations. Dr. Amelia Burke-Garcia is the leading communication expert in this field, and her understanding of effective communication principles, published data on influencer marketing, and personal connections with many of today’s leading influencers makes her the perfect person to write this book. My colleagues are repeatedly asking me for resources that provide best practices and tips on influencer marketing, and I am anxiously awaiting this book’s publication. I’m confident it will serve as an invaluable resource to our field." — Erin Norvell, Executive Director, Society for Health Communication; Founder and Principal Strategist, Digital Edge Communications

Table of Contents

Foreword Introduction Chapter 1: Influencers: Old and New Chapter 2: Followers and the Importance of Trust and Credibility Chapter 3: Relationships, Relationships, Relationships Chapter 4: Online Influencers and Health Chapter 5: Online Influencer Perceptions of Risk Chapter 6: it’s Just the “Great Unknown Chapter 7: The Importance of the Message Chapter 8: The Importance of Great – Not Good – Graphics Chapter 9: A Path Forward

About the Author

Dr. Amelia Burke-Garcia is an award-winning digital health communicator and researcher with more than fifteen years of experience creating innovative and impactful digital interventions for public health initiatives. Currently, she runs Westat's Center for Digital Strategy and Research and leads numerous influencer-focused efforts on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Burke-Garcia has been singularly examining the role of influencers in health communication and research efforts for more than a decade, including the role of payment in this space. Dr. Burke-Garcia began her work with influencers in 2006 when she worked for Horizon Media. During this time, she led what was then called Organic Marketing and used fledgling networks of influencers to promote products and brands.

After two years of working in the private sector, Dr. Burke-Garcia came back to public health and ran the first-ever Tweet-a-Thon with online mommy influencers to promote adolescent vaccination. Since then, she has led CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Campaign, which utilized celebrity influencers such NFL Hall of Fame players, Carl Eller and Barry Sanders, as well as everyday influencers such as mommy bloggers, Pregnant Chicken and Beer and Babies, to promote and encourage seasonal flu vaccinations. She has continued to lead the field in this area with her current contract to support CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), which is building an influencer platform to disseminate their health messages. She also has co-led a research studies focused on influencers funded by NIH. Other professional experience includes her work at international nonprofits, AED, and Management Sciences for Health.

Dr. Burke-Garcia finished her dissertation in 2017, which examined online influencers as opinion leaders for health information dissemination, the findings from which concluded that the online influencer space has undergone a major shift in recent years, turning from what was once a more informal space for content and idea sharing to what is now a more organized—and monetized—marketing channel. As well, her dissertation research found that while monetization is an important part of this world, not all influencers require payment for engaging in health-related campaigns, and that trust and credibility play important and symbiotic roles in the relationship between an influencer and his/her followers and the brands and campaigns that influencer chooses to partner with.

Dr. Burke-Garcia is the author of the S.O.C.I.A.L. framework for planning and evaluating digital media campaigns, writes and maintains a blog at, and has been published in numerous journals and books. She has been called a Social Media Icon by PR News Group. She has her undergraduate degree from McGill University, her master’s degree from Georgetown University, and her Ph.D. in Communication from George Mason University.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Marketing / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Nonprofit Organizations & Charities / Marketing & Communications
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Mentoring & Coaching