Promoting Budget 2018 Through Social Media Influencers

by Patrick Liew on January 26, 2018

Recently, it was reported that the Ministry of Finance (MOF) had retained social media influencers to promote Budget 2018.

That initiative has received many online rantings and mudslingings.

I do not pretend or want to pretend to be an expert in marketing.

And neither do I want to make a conclusive judgment on whether the MOF’s initiative was completely right or for that matter, all wrong.

There are imponderables that need to be considered before we know the complete truth.

To be fair to the MOF, there are missing information that prevent us from making the best of judgments.

Therefore, I wish to pose some questions to the supporters as well as to detractors of this initiative.

I believe that by asking appropriate questions, educated and enlightened persons can evaluate the epistemological basis of MOF’s initiative.

In other words, how do people know that the initiative is effective or ineffective?

And how do they know THAT THEY KNOW it is effective or ineffective?

By asking the right questions, they can also find the right information to make better-informed decisions.

After all, the quality of decisions and results oftentimes depends on the quantity of quality questions that are being posed to both the relevant personnel as well as to the other relevant publics.

In the process of doing so, bear in mind that marketing is not foolproof because the world is not made up of fools.

In addition, marketing is both an art and a science.

It is being executed in a fast-changing and an ever-evolving landscape.

Therefore, marketing cannot be fully considered as an evidence-based science.

Here are some questions for your consideration:

1. Which segment of the millennials is the MOF targeting?

Remember, millennials may not be the most interested in something as dry and probably as irrelevant to them as Budget 2018.

What if, for example, the MOF wanted to target millenials that are interested in lifestyle products and services, wouldn’t using social media influencers be a good way to reach out to them as long as it didn’t cost an arm or a leg?

How do you know that this initiative was not just a way to test a different approach to reach a niche group of millenials?

Who’s to say that it was definitely wrong and that there should not be any room for experimentation, especially if the marketer was planning to move into an uncharted territory?

2. Is this initiative a part of an integrated marketing campaign?

In a typical marketing campaign, a marketer would use an integrated approach of communicating different angles of a message to a targeted audience and do it through different channels.

Therefore, using social media influencers could be one of many strategies to reach the targeted market.

Perhaps, social influencers were being used to reach a niche segment of the targeted audience.

How do you know that taking such a novel approach would not attract the attention and interest of a niche segment of the millennials?

3. How much money did the MOF spend on this initiative?

How do you know that the MOF was not getting the best bang for a limited amount of bucks?

How do you know that it was not cost-effective?

Should the MOF reveal details of every initiative to the public and its related expenditures and potentially generate unnecessary polarizations, reactions and repercussions?

4. Was this approach innovative?

We want our government to be creative and innovative to help us survive and succeed in the new economy.

To be innovative, you need to experiment.

And to experiment, you need to try out-of-the-box approaches and potentially make mistakes.

And unfortunately, attract a lot of grumblings, grouses, and gripings.

How can we encourage the MOF to create new breakthroughs if we don’t give them some space and latitude to venture into new territories?

How do you know that the social media influencers and the resulting publicity – both good and bad – did not get the attention of the targeted niche segment?

How do you know that millennials in this segment will not pay closer attention to delivery of Budget 2018 on February 19, 2018?

How do you know that the whole campaign was ineffective and a waste of money?

The true measurement of any marketing campaign is in the results.

The good news is that whether by design or otherwise, the controversy of using social media influencers has generated more publicity for the national budget this year than in previous years.

Hopefully, the millennials will pay more attention to the annual national budgets.

After all, it’s the ruling government’s policy to save and invest about half of its revenue for the benefits of future generations.

There is hardly any government in the world that has taken a more conservative, prudent and effective approach to balance its budgets and prepare the country for a better future.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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