There is no denying the pure enjoyment from reading the latest tweet from Ellen DeGeneres or the 10th meme of the day featuring Grumpy Cat on your Facebook page. These procrastination aids have their time and place, as they should. However, if you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground you may have also caught on to the incredibly useful applications of social media in the health sector. The growing popularity of social networking sites with their interactive functions, ease of use, and wide applications make them excellent vessels for dissemination of health promotion messages.
Here are just a few examples of public health campaigns that I came across that very effectively use social media as their promotional outlet.
The Condom Pledge – Facebook
A public health campaign to normalize condom use in youth across the globe.
Moving pictures, posts, and statistics of global malnutrition.
An interactive group that uses community support and regular meetings to help address obesity and lose weight.
Here Comes Everybody discusses the link between personal motivation and collaborative production. Social media has given the general populous the keys to the kingdom in which individuals, businesses, and institutions can network within the health sector, promote to clients, and share inspiring stories promoting public health. If I were to ask you, “How do you use social media for health?” I would expect a couple blank stares, a large amount of outright denials, and only a few examples. But since you are reading this blog, I think its safe to assume a few things. A) You have some link to the outside world. B) You are not stranded on a deserted island. C) You have at least a small degree of interest in health. I would also venture a guess that you use social media for health without even knowing it.
To prove my point, here is my list of 5 top ways people use social media for health without even knowing it
#1 – Snapchatting your summer beach bod. Been hitting the gym? Been passing up that ever so tempting doughnut shop on your walk to work? Well you’ve put in the work. The time. The grind. The 6 AM Pilates session before your 9-5. The 11 PM cross fit after you put the kids to bed. Why not snap a few pics? You’ve earned it. And without knowing it, your self promotion has quickly turned into health promotion. So go ahead, flex and text.
#2 – Liking and sharing on Facebook. Have you ever read a moving piece about starving children and clicked share? Posted a story about the controversial topic of medical marijuana just to stir the pot? “Liked” your personal gym or favorite healthy restaurant? If that’s a yes, then guess what… Yup, you guessed it.
#3 – Health Apps on smart phone. There are now over 100,000 apps dedicated to mobile health, most of them gratis. 19% of smart phone owners have at least one of these apps. Whether it is the Whole Foods Market app, MyFitnessPal app, WebMD app, or drugs.com app, there is a plethora of health promotional material out there just a swipe and click away.
#4 – The “Wow” pics on Instagram. Made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro? Get a great shot of a moray eel while scuba diving? Snap a selfie of you hanging ten off the coast of California? Not only do these pictures demonstrate your high octane lifestyle and your uncanny ability to take perfect pictures while flying through the water or air, they also help to promote an active lifestyle and encourage your viewers to get off the sofa and stretch their potential.
#5 – Online community. For your friends and family who are chronically ill, temporarily or permanently confined to a hospital or assisted living environment, or are otherwise unable to actively engage with you in person, social media allows you to stay in touch with each other and helps to minimize the feelings of social and geographical isolation.
So there’s the list. Did you fall into 1 of the 5?