The Rise of Social Media

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


6 thoughts on “The Rise of Social Media

  1. Great post. I really like how you split it up into sections instead of paragraphs. It makes it much for palatable for readers to actually get to the end of the post. Interesting content, and I think one way that could help to further increase reader engagement would be to post a question to the audience. Such as, what do you think is the most effective form of social media?

  2. Colin,
    This was a nice summary of social media, pervasiveness in society and targeting the audience. Snapchat is more popular than Twitter for the tweens and 18-25 year olds in the Chicago area.

    I felt there was a disconnect in your blog between the application of the social media tools and engagement of segmented audiences about health issues. More importantly, the engagement of the target audience has to happen in such a way as to prompt a change in health behavior. What would “get it done” when talking about using social media and promoting condom use in teens?
    Social Media tools and using them to post information alone is not enough for social media to be useful as a sustainable public health platform and a call to action.

  3. Great post Colin! I really like how you used audience and type of social media in your post. I have to admit, in the first paragraph of your post, I thought, “yea that’s me” and felt a twinge of guilt. But you captured it so well how social media is literally at our fingertips and so engulfed in our day to day routines. As I said before, your point about how Facebook might not get your message out the way you intend it based on your audience is a key point and one to very strongly consider.

  4. Agree with author about organizing successful outreach campaigns: first we need to define/know our audience prior to starting promotional campaigns. As I am hearing from networking with other parents/colleagues there are quickly changing “the latest and greatest” social media apps among tweens and teens. The more we know about social media trends and ways public communicate, the better and more effective we become with public health campaigning.
And second, selecting proper format for outreach messaging: in general, there are tendencies to use particular apps to exchange longer messages, voice messages, media/video/picture sharing, chat, and meet new friends. Type of app would define campaign’s content format: for example, using Tweeter for microblogging, or Youtube for video sharing, Instagram for microblogging and infographic promotion, etc.

  5. great post ,
    The way you have split the sections up makes it easier to read and follow , I also like the way you used audience in your posts .
    I very much agree with the importance of knowing our audience and using the right platform to reach out to our target population .
    As you mention in your post , for example Facebook might be a good platform some purposes but it may not always be the right platform for targeting a specific group .

  6. Pros of this post: broken up into sections, great applications of social media to public health (ex: not using facebook to spread awareness of condom usage, using simple language to speak to laypeople on mass media), description of your personal experiences with social media (ex, waking up every morning to check your newsfeeds).
    Constructive feedback: I would add more examples of ways that the populations that use twitter/snapchat/facebook differ. I think any public health professional who is curious about using social media would like to know more about what kind of exposure they can get through each platform.

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