Health blogs… It’s interesting, with the increasing use of social media it has become socially acceptable for pretty much anyone to put in their 2 cents about what should be done to ensure a healthy lifestyle and longevity. This is highlighted in the book “Here comes everybody” – how everyone is a media outlet and there are no longer the previous constraints or barriers to publishing or broadcasting your opinions. As a general rule I either 1. Avoid them, snootily looking down my nose at the lack of substance or 2. secretly read them taking mental notes of what 5 things I really must do “to tighten my tush in ten days..”
I think the problem I found with my first generic “health blog” search, was that so many of the blogs weren’t really about health at all.. I was inundated by fad diets, extreme fitness regimes and baseless statements regarding the healing powers of lemon water and an army of “super foods”. For some reason I seemed to predominantly encounter the “type 5” blog as mentioned by another blogger a few days ago.
So instead of going through all the reasons I hate these sorts of blogs, I decided to look at what makes them very effective communicators and what more legitimate and informative health blogs can use from these sorts of blogs.
- Images – images of young and attractive people enjoying life. You can’t help but want to be them, and do all the things stated in the blog to achieve it!
- Language – written in an informal tone in understandable language it is easy to relate to. They also use empowering (albeit annoying) inspirational quotes – “it starts with you!” or “you don’t have to see the whole staircase you just have to take the first step” (so wise!)
- Content – now this is where it gets tricky to use this for more legitimate/informative blogs, but I think people LOVE the content of these sorts of blogs; quick fixes, extreme fad diets, a focus on holistic health and things that evoke short-term inspiration and motivation. “I ground cloves into a glass of ice cold water each morning, and felt my digestive health rapidly improve!”On that note though – inspirational and motivational tools can be used to promote behavior change for legitimate health blogs. It might just be better for things that require only short term change, i.e. not lifestyle change, rather promoting a one-off screening.
- celebrity endorsements and popular culture – people love to do what is “trending” and what the celebs are doing – kabbalah (remember that?), paleo diets, juicing, cabbage soup. While making genuine positive health behavior change possible with a hashtag might be difficult, getting a celebrity to promote seeing a primary care professional for a check-up, or de-stigmatize mental illness and offer links for further information for example, is quite achievable.
So here is a few thoughts on how to create a health blog with genuinely helpful information that will be popular and hope to create useful behavior change.