5 Easy Ways to Improve Public Health Outreach on Social Media

October 22, 2020

When used effectively, social media platforms can be powerful tools for communicating about public health and changing behavior. However, it can be difficult for public health professionals to get started or maintain social media platforms, especially if social media management is just one item on their ever-growing list of responsibilities.

Below, five of our social media experts share their tips for improving your social media activities, from digital storytelling to creating SMART objectives, there are many ways to shake up your social media work and make your voice heard.

Digital Storytelling Is The New Wave
Jamal Refuge, BSPH, MPH Candidate

Video is one of the most engaging social media tools available. Videos, on average, receive up to 7 times more engagement compared to written posts and images. The most important part of creating videos is digital storytelling. Be creative and tell a story about why your audience should use your product or service. For example, in 2019 we worked with HIV.gov and Snapchat’s News Production Team to create a nationwide Snapchat News Story in observance of World AIDS Day. The story featured personal stories from people with HIV/AID on stigma, testing, and treatment that reached more than two million people in all 50 states.

Collaboration is Key
Aisha Moore, MPH

Social media can sometimes be an echo chamber and the people who really need our messages aren’t getting them. I suggest forging an ongoing relationship with community-based organizations that want to share public health messages with their audiences. Ask to guest post or do a “takeover” of their accounts and share your knowledge. Make it reciprocal and feature their work on your blog or social media pages.

2020 social media users by demographic

Via Hootsuite, 2020

Focus on Platforms that Align with your Goals
Emma Kane, BS

When developing a social media strategy it can be tempting to create accounts on every major social media platform, but before you jump in it’s important to do your audience research. Organizations with limited resources should focus their time and energy on a few platforms where their intended audiences are most active. Hootsuite has compiled a great resource on social media demographics so that you can do just that.

Begin With Your Goal in Mind
Hannabah Blue, MSPH

I have always been a big picture person. So, when I’m planning my social media efforts, I get so excited about developing the goals for my campaign. While “SMART Objectives” may not sound that thrilling, taking time to envision the outcomes of all your hard work can be motivating. With every effort that you put into your social media presence, keep your picture of success in mind. What impact will your campaign have on your community? What impact will it have on the health of your audience members? Like following the North Star, let your dream guide each step in your journey!

Stay Fresh and On Trend
Eddie Wiley, MPH

Social media is an ever-changing game. Trends come and go within a matter of hours. It’s really important to know what’s happening on your preferred platform. Social media channels are now getting more current with the addition of stories, short videos and other similar features. While acknowledging your brand, make sure you throw in some relevant trends that are working for your audience (i.e., gifs, stickers, filters, voiceovers).

APHA 2020 Attendees: Learn More During Our Social Media Lab!
In partnership with APHA, we’re excited to co-host this year’s Social Media Lab at the annual meeting. Conference attendees can schedule a 1-on-1 appointment to receive hands-on advice and instruction on everything from sending your first tweet to developing a social media strategy. Whether you’re new to social media or a longtime user, our social media experts can help you improve your impact. Learn more and sign up through APHA’s Annual Meeting Platform.


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