Healthy Socialization: What Can Social Media Offer Healthcare Organizations?

When it comes to social media, the landscape today is more cluttered than a hoarder’s bedroom. Companies are faced with the challenge of standing out amongst the noise and finding new and authentic ways of connecting with their audiences. Non-profits and healthcare organizations face an especially difficult uphill battle as they look to connect with a very specific audience on a limited budget while abiding by regulations. Thanks to social media, a little creativity can go a long way.

You’ve no doubt seen hundreds of your friends on Facebook and celebrities across the country pouring buckets of ice water over their heads. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral and helped raise both awareness and more than $100 million dollars for the rare disease. While the chances of replicating that kind of success are few and far between, there are other campaigns out there – some in our own backyard here in Boston – that are gaining traction, reaching audiences with key messages and showcasing the power of individuals joining together for a cause. Let’s explore other recently successful marketing/PR campaigns from health organizations.

#GetNaked(Photo Credit: Melanoma Research Foundation)

  • #GetNaked: The Melanoma Research Foundation launched the #GetNaked campaign to promote skin self-exams since melanoma can be treated if caught early enough. Through the use of #GetNaked on social media platforms and campaign profile pictures, #GetNaked and #melanoma were used to raise awareness for early diagnosis. The organization also encouraged patients to share their #GetNaked stories to build a community and connect to patients. The overall emphasis of the campaign was to raise awareness, and through more than 1,500 shares of #GetNaked, the Melanoma Research Foundation was able to do just that.

#FSHDSelfies (Photo Credit: FSH Society)

  • #FSHDselfies: At SHIFT, we had the opportunity to launch a social awareness campaign ourselves with our client, The FSH Society. Our team worked with the organization to develop and launch the #FSHDselfies campaign this past June to raise awareness and educate the public about Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) – one of the most prevalent types of muscular dystrophy affecting adults and children. The campaign encourages people to take and share #FSHDselfies on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for those who can’t smile. Each selfie raises $1 towards FSHD research. By capitalizing on the craze of selfies, more than 3,500 #FSHDselfies have been shared so far. You can still share your own today to help the FSH Society reach its goal of raising $5,000.

Swap the Salt

(Photo Credit: BPHC)

  • Swap the Salt Campaign: The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) launched a new public health campaign called “Swap the Salt/ Déjà La Sal” in June, challenging residents to consume less sodium. The focus of the campaign was on the “hidden salt” in processed and packaged foods and encouraged Boston area consumers to substitute healthier alternatives to lower their risk of health disease and strokes. It was an educational effort that helped drive awareness by being informative and offering different ways that Bostonians can ‘swap the salt.’

What can we learn from these campaigns?

  • Educate. When it comes to non-profits and healthcare organizations, data leaves a lasting impression. Shocking statistics, like how much salt is in your food or your chances of living with melanoma, can impact followers and build connections – which in turn can increase the odds of them supporting the cause through donations and social media engagement.
  • Offer Simple Asks. Although the Ice Bucket Challenge involves an intricate process of creating a video, it also offers an alternative to donate – an easier task with a greater reward. Including hashtags like #SwapTheSalt, #GetNaked and #FSHDselfies into social posts is a simple ask that could indirectly help save a life. People want to feel like they can help contribute to the greater good without heavy lifting.
  • Include Imagery. One thing all of these campaigns have in common is that they each offer a compelling visual – whether it’s videos of people dumping water over their own heads or a selfie that can help raise research funds. Grabbing someone’s attention can be the first step in generating interest and awareness; stimulating visuals can help with this.

From these campaigns, we see that the future of social engagement for health-related non-profits is promising. The key to success across the board is to provide consumers with simple, easy to understand direction. An easily executable call to action is a must-have for a social media campaign with chops. The wild success of the Ice Bucket Challenge will be difficult to replicate, but we all know it will happen. Who will be next?

Casey Nulph
Account Coordinator

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Posted on October 1, 2014 in Healthcare, Public Relations

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