Government Suspends Use Of Instagram Influencers After $800K Bill

It was revealed on Friday that the government has spent more than $800,000 on Instagram "influencers" over the past 18 months.

The government is shelving its use of Instagram "influencers" pending a review, after it was revealed that the Health Department had spent more than $800,000 in sponsored posts.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said that there would need to be  "a demonstrated benefit and demonstrated suitability" of any influencer going forward, after questions were raised about some of the Instagram stars involved.

"At my request, the Department is pausing and reviewing any use of influencers," he said in a statement on Saturday morning.

"For this to recommence ... there would need to be a demonstrated benefit and demonstrated suitability of any individual going forward.

"This would need to include a thorough assessment and vetting process linked to improving the health of Australians."

It was revealed this week that the government had spent $826,157 on hundreds of Instagram influencers in the past 18 months, with the bulk of that going towards the 'Girls make your move' campaign.

Questions were raised about the appropriateness of the influencers engaged in the campaign.

One of them has previously come under fire for posting racist tweets (she has since apologised), while another is an ambassador for an alcohol brand -- hardly the best brand alignment for a campaign promoting health and fitness.

It also comes amid scrutiny over the validity of Instagram influencers as a marketing tool, with reports of influencers buying followers or engaging bots to vastly bump up their engagement.

A Lumio analysis of a sample of 19 of the influencers contracted by the Health Department found that just three had enough engagement to be valuable to an advertiser.

"This is taxpayer money so it should be used more wisely," Lumio co-founder Dan Anisse told the Daily Telegraph.