“The Earth is in a constant state of change. Earth’s crust consists of 15 to 20 moving tectonic plates. The heat from radioactive processes within the planet’s interior causes the plates to move, sometimes toward and sometimes away from each other. This movement is called plate motion, or tectonic shift”.1
These are the most powerful natural forces that shape face of the Earth and have the most longterm and widespread impact on climate, natural disasters, ecosystems, live species proliferation and extinction.
We often use expression “tectonic shift” to describe extraordinary events in our personal lives or global changes that occur due to mostly unplanned phenomenon.
I think we can officially declare that virtual/digital revolution successfully scored all-time home run record touching the Earth bases/continents and counting over billions of social media users in their league. Social network platforms are reshaping the world:
- Market leader Facebook was the first social network to surpass 1 billion registered accounts.2
- 48% of the US population are Facebook users and it is projected to increase. 3
- Over 70% of the US population has a social networking profile.4
This is illustration of profound societal shift that rapidly changing the way we connect, network, share, communicate, learn, find friends and look for help and support. There are similar reasons among my friends and healthcare colleagues for use of social media. They use it to:
- notify their friends when they are going through a difficult health issue
- raise funds to support specific health issues (web sites gofundme.com, crowdfunder.com)
- look for health apps, WebMD advice, healthy recipes, great exercises, healthy lifestyle tips
- inform each other about infectious outbreaks and prevention measures
- network with friends and colleagues
- share personal health stories and blogs
A healthy dose of skepticism is needed to critically assess media misinformation, should it be deliberate or accidental. Thus, 815,000 YahooNews users were panicked after receiving tweet about Ebola outbreak in Atlanta after YahooNews account had been hacked.
Moments like this can significantly harm public trust in public health organizations. Contra measures using the same social media applications are very constructive to dispel misleading health information. That is why the CDC hosted a Twitter chat about Ebola. “Rumors move much more quickly in the social media space than they would have otherwise,” said Barbara Reynolds, head of public affairs for the CDC. “People want information and one of the best things we can do is give them information in a way that they can take it in and manage their emotions.”5
By virtue of our profession we work with populations, organizations and public on global scale. For the past decade social medial society has increasingly become important target audience for public health professionals. There are ample opportunities for public health field to increase their presence on social media platforms. Therefore, modern public health practice requires its own rapid tectonic shift in order to adopt these changes and move their platform toward target audience integrating the principles of social media into their practice:
- real-time information sharing
- linking with new audiences and communities
- instant networking with peers and public
- staying connected and supportive of reciprocal spirit
Public Health and Healthcare delivery systems are moving forward with marketing and communications social network campaigns to build outreach to patients and their families, staff, doctors, students, supporters, connect with communities and the world.
For innovators and influencers it is not good enough to “follow” and “like”, we need to take a lead and build upon current social media enthusiasm and popularity, innovate and navigate public health programs and campaigns using supporters’ synergies and social media network power.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- STATISTA, Leading social networks worldwide, 2015
- STATISTA Leading countries based on number of Facebook users, 2014
- Percentage of U.S. population with a social network profile, 2015
- Fear, Misinformation, and Social Media Complicate Ebola Fight, Oct 8, 2014