The social media plays a very significant role in our society in bringing to light several aspects of peoples’ lives and their access to the health information. Since ancient times, public health institutions and organizations were using radio and print media and also social marketing frameworks to broadcast vital health information to the public. But nowadays, the use of social Medias like youtube, Twitter, facebook and other social media channels has increased considerably (Andrew and Titov, 2010).
The use of the social media has turned out to be an effective manner through which health messages and information can efficiently be accessed. Social media have basically linked a lot of people to enhance the timely distribution and possible influence of safety information and health, to expand reach to diverse audiences, enablecollaborativecommunication and public engagement and encourage people to make healthier and safe decisions about their health.
Over years, the internet has greatly influenced people’s relationships. Though nurses, doctors and other health specialists continues to be the fore front for people with health issues, online sources like advice from peers are very important source of health in the United States of America. The following are the two major driving forces for online health chats; increased activity and desire specifically among persons living with chronic diseases and accessibility of social media mechanisms.
There is extensive indication that many American are going online to seek health information. Generally, 80% of the Americans are categorized as internet users by statistics carried out. About 15% of Americans have used internet in finding out about some health information like weight, diet and exercise. About 60% were found to be using social networks like myspace, facebook and twitter.
Even though social media can talk about different presentations, inclusive of media sharing and blogging servers, social medias like facebook permits users to form and online networks of pals and associates. Each and every type of social media network can cater to different demographic and each has an exclusive role in the current social media landscape as discussed bellow.
Public health organizations can create an account or institutional facebook page. Organizations like the US center for Disease Control and World Health Organizations all may subscribe to facebook in such a manner. These pages contains most of the features of facebook like photos, posts, video uploads and discussion boards. Settings may be changed according to the organization’s needs and objectives.
For instance, most organizations permits users to like the page instated of sending a friend request. When a user likes the page of that particular health organization, they will automatically be receiving updates and posts of health information from their page.
Organizations on the social media in most cases ask usersof their websites to like them on facebook by putting a link to their official website. After clicking on the link, users are now entitled to receive updates on the health matters related to that health organization. Health Organizations do use facebook in advertising and exposing themselves to the public. Advertisement do target specific audiences coming on their facebook page.
Health organizations may use you tube in uploading videos related to the health which comes to no cost to the users. A link may be embedded on an organization’s website or any other social media that the organization is using. You tube has been linked to Google accounts such as g-mail.
Creating a twitter account is free to both public and corporate organizations. Twitter feeds can also be fixed on external websites, together with the official websites of public health departments, such as Hamilton Public Health Services at no extra cost (Ball and Lillis, 2001). Users can follow the health department by clicking on the link provided and logging into their Twitter account to confirm their interest in following the health organization. Then they will automatically receive updates through their Twitter account, text messaging, or smartphone applications broadcast by that organization. On the other hand, non-Twitter users can click the link provided and be taken to that organization’s Twitter feed to view recent posts, though non-Twitter subscribers are not able to “follow” the feed to get updates sent to them. Besides being a collaborating outreach medium that broadcasts in real time, Twitter is an excellent networking tool. Organizations can follow community partners for their updates and re-broadcast messages broadcast by them. Related to Facebook, this type of direct networking doubles as extra promotion for an organization’s Twitter page.
Blogger, like other blogging sites such as Live Journal, Blogspot, and Word Press are free applications that allow users to create and design their own blog. With unique features like allowing lists of followers and favorite blogs, Blogger is adaptable enough to fit almost any need at no cost to the user. It can also be linked to Google accounts and other social media applications. Like Twitter, Blogger lets other Blogger users to follow an organization’s blog and get instant updates notifying them of new posts, simply by clicking a button on the blog. Non-Blogger users can also easily access agency authored blogs as long as the blog’s confidentiality settings are set to be available to the public. Blogger ensures for minimal website design through a template application, though more elaborate designs may require the cost of hiring a web developer.
Public health interventions on social media in America.
I used a facebook fun page and advertisements, videos and photos hosting sites such as you tube, prominent bloggers and shared videos so as to enhance the online sale of condoms and also how to use them in America. Even though less than 9% of the sales were done online, this was relatively high compared to online sales of condoms in comparable countries like Europe and Britain. Although the impact on the sales was successfully achieved, the educational part of the website was not accessed frequently showing that the public was not accessing the website for the purpose of education or even entertainment.
Another sexual health related campaign I planned meant to target youth so as to sensitize the awareness of HIV/AIDs infections. In partnership with MTV, we posted a video featuring submitted by American Youths infected and affected by HIV. In conjunction with public service announcements and separate video contests, this was believed to significantly increase the HIV awareness to the public.
Blood donation was also a best health campaign I thought about using in the social media platform to inform the public about the importance of donating blood. In partnership with American blood centers, we opted to initiate a social media like facebook to promote blood donation (Eysenbach, 2008). On the facebook page, we first encourage the users to like a certain photo showing a person transfusing blood in a campaign intended to increase the number of Rh negative donors. There was a huge traffic recorded on that page during the first four weeks of the campaign and then steadily declined until the seventh week. Afterwards, the number of Rh negative donors suggestively increased. Consequently, the organization reports a positive experience and estimates that they can reach above 190,000 donors with their facebook profile.
I also thought VERB to be an effective way to campaign on social media promoting physical activity. This campaign targeted adolescents through a number of media platforms. The campaign involved television shows, but put more emphasis on new media platforms like websites, viral videos, a text messaging campaign and human interaction referred to as Yellow campaign. Through text messaging campaign, about 25,000 teenagers were reached with messages encouraging them to participate in physical activity. Yellow ball campaign involved distributing of yellow sports balls to community and schools centers countrywide. The balls contained labels with instructions to register them on the social media campaign. Once registered teens were taught how to play with the balls and further described the type of physical activity they performed in the website. Then the balls were to be passed on to a friend to do the same. Successfully, the campaign used teen’s social network to reach over 50% of American teenagers.
The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention shows the exceptional characteristics of social media that make it highly effective health advancement tools, listing the three P’s”: presentation, personalization and participation (Eysenbach, 2001). Social media permits tailored message that are personalized to target audiences in distinctivemanner, it permits presentation of messages in numerouslayoutsalluring to a wide variety of customers and most importantly, it permits participatorycharities from health clients themselves, enabling two-way communication that is a different and thrilling concept in public health, where information has traditionally been scattered in a one-way manner from doorkeeper to user. The Center for Disease Controllay emphasis on that social media not only lets public health organizations to control social networks to enlarge the reach of target messages, but also involves users in important way. By enabling participation by health clients in the spread of health information and information sharing, social media can extremely empower them to make good health choices for themselves and influence their age mates as wells to do the same. Arguably, this makes social media one of the most valuable devices in the public health toolbox.
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