Social media has cemented itself in our culture. The rise of smartphones and tablets have accelerated social media’s growth as well as accessibility. My Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat are all icons on my phone and I have the ability to access them in the snap of a finger. The ease of being able to access my social media so easily has contributed to be becoming a more frequent user. It is now a part of my morning routine. Every morning when I wake up I check the latest posts as I shake off the morning grogginess. I am not alone in my frequent viewing either. Look around and I guarantee you will see a handful of people engulfed by their phones.
There is great potential for the health community to utilize this trend of social media, a trend that will only continue to gain popularity. There are many different avenues of social media that the health community can utilize. Facebook remains the most popular form of social media with over 70 million users Social Media Update 2014 but others still hold a large following. There are several things to consider before deciding how to use social media in health.
- First it is important to determine whom you are trying to reach. While Facebook holds the most users, it might not reach the target population you are intending. Simply posting something on social media just won’t do, you have to do a little research first. Facebook might be a popular social media tool for adults within the age range of 22-30 but might be used as frequently among teenagers. In fact this has been my experience. Twitter has a much firmer grasp among younger users, particularly those under the age of 21. So if you are trying to promote condom use among teens in high school, a simple post to Facebook might not get it done.
- Another key thing to remember is that many people are using more than one form of social media. This provides an excellent opportunity to display a message in a number of different ways. A post on Facebook might consist of mostly words and may only be appealing to a certain population but if an impactful picture it posted on lets say Instagram it could reach the missed population.
- With such a broad range of people being reached through social media it is important to consider how information is being communicated. Whether teens or adults are being targeted, it is important to remember that these people are not health professionals and should not be expected to know the latest lingo. Keep posts simple and concise so people of all ages and backgrounds can benefit.
Social media provides an excellent opportunity to communicate information across a broad spectrum. Never before has this much information been available to the public. It should not be viewed as intimidating or as a fad that will come and go. As technology continues to be a prominent fixture in our society, social media will remain in flux.