Health influencer marketing: 20% trust influencers over specialists
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Health influencer marketing: 20% trust influencers over specialists

In this Marketing Report:

In recent years, the digital landscape of medicine has undergone a transformative shift in how health-related information is disseminated and received. Social media platforms have emerged as powerful channels that bridge the gap between health marketers, influencers, and consumers seeking to improve their well-being. This study on health influencer marketing explores the dynamics between health influencers and healthcare specialists, shedding light on their respective roles, influence, and impact on public health awareness.

Sortlist surveyed 1,000 users who followed health and nutrition influencers on social media. The goal was to understand the power of health influencers on people’s decisions and where this leaves specialists. Do you trust your health influencer more than your doctor for your gut health? Here are the results.


Easiest source for people to find information about their health


People who research the background information of nutrition influencers


The single most decisive factor when choosing influencers 

Preferred sources of information of physical health

Google is still #1

People claim that Google and specialists are the easiest sources to find information about their health, life, and wellness. Their Google searches about mental health and healthy recipes reveal as much.

Easiest information source

36.4% of people prefer to use Google to find a health influencer, while 32.4% prefer specialists, brands, and specialised services.

But social media is the main source for almost half (47.6%)

In contrast, the main source of health information in practice remains social media (47.6%), followed by specialists and online media (magazines, forums, etc.) that promote health, a healthy lifestyle, sustainable habits, meal ideas, mental health, and healthy recipes.

Main information source

Inspiration and information are users’ main interests

The success of health-related messages hinges not only on the quality of information but also on the ability to reach and captivate the intended audience. The engagement rate, an essential metric on social media platforms, reflects the effectiveness of content in sparking interest and encouraging interactions.

The power of influencers

Whether it was gut health or emotional eating, the type of content users follow health influencers for is a combination of health tips, inspiration and ideas (27.12%) and information (25.47%) promoting healthy living and helpful tips for a healthy relationship with their fitness goals, sustainable fat loss, and evidence based nutrition.

Visual content is in high demand

Of these social media channels, Youtube and Instagram appear at the very top for the health industry and nutrition influencers, highlighting the demand of its target audience for visual content around health tips and how to stay healthy.

Social Media

The power of health influencers

What makes people trust a health and wellness influencer?

Across markets, credibility reins as the single most decisive factor for audiences when choosing health influencers.

The power of influencers - What makes you trust them?

In this industry, the number of Instagram followers for diet and nutrition influencers is more important than content when promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Half of users research influencers’ backgrounds

For health marketers, identifying the right influencers for health-related promotions becomes a crucial aspect of campaign planning. But for users, influencer selection is also a picky business.

Research information

Exactly 50% of people following health influencers say they research the background information of every fitness trainer on social media, lifestyle influencers, and in general, influencers of physical health, as well as the information and workout routines they provide.

Impact of nutrition influencers on users

71% have bought products from influencers

Almost 4 out of 5 people following health influencers said they have bought a product promoted by the average website or Instagram account of a fitness trainer.

The power of influencers - Impact on buying behaviour

Almost half of people report a positive experience from health influencers

The majority of people report a positive result (42%) from following health influencers, whether by fully adopting a lifestyle, seeing permanent weight loss, assuming body confidence, stopping emotional eating, solving important health issues, treating eating disorders, or buying promoted products.

Positive or negative impact

Reasons to stop following a health influencer

There are several reasons why someone decides to stop following the brand of a fitness trainer or other health influencers, like Dr. Rachel Paul, that he or she once looked up to. But according to our research, these are three main reasons, prevalent across the countries we surveyed.

Reasons for following influencers

Health influencers vs. specialists

Honesty, still the best policy

Trustworthiness, personalized service, and transparency in Instagram influencers are the three main factors that stop users from choosing health influencers over a specialist.

The power of a specialist

Half of users would not trust health influencers for health symptoms

Issues related to information about health conditions or symptoms (47.68%) and which products to use (31.89%) are examples of things that people wouldn’t trust health influencers with, despite saying earlier that the main reason they followed these wellness influencers was for inspiration and information for a healthier lifestyle.

Information you wouldn't trust an influencer with

Most users find health specialists expensive and hard to reach

Cost (51.8%) and ease of access, or the difficulty to get an appointment (25.75%), stand as the two main blockers that users face when deciding to contact their health and wellness specialist.

Blockers for contacting a specialist

People trust specialists more

When asked who they would trust more, the majority of users threw social media influencers under the bus: only 1 out of 5 people would trust them before health and wellness specialists.

The power of influencers - Who do you trust more


Despite listening to the tips of a wellness influencer, buying their recommended products, taking investing advice directly from them, and overall making important decisions towards health and wealth, the power of influencers still doesn’t seem as big as others make it out to be. People will often turn to specialists, especially when more details are needed or when a first action is ready to be made. This happens despite blockers such as cost and appointment difficulties.

By juxtaposing the persuasive power of influencers with the expertise of healthcare specialists, this study aspires to shed light on how behaviours towards these figures are shifting. Ultimately, uncovering the nuances of this relationship will contribute to informed decision-making by health marketers, fostering a healthier and more discerning digital health landscape.

50% of users research information from health influencers.

Cost and ease of access are blockers for contacting specialists.

Inspiration (27.12%) and information (25.47%) are the preferred content from a health influencer.

33% believe credibility is the most important factor.


The study was conducted between June 1st and June 8th, 2022, among 1,000 users across Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. In the study, we surveyed users who followed health and nutrition influencers in order to determine their preferences when it comes to trust, reliability, and action regarding influencer advice. The responses are anonymous.

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