Social Media for Health


Ice Bucket Challenge

Interactive version

Social media, or communication from many-to-many (thanks, Shirky, for that definition!), has allowed for more rapid dissemination of information and subsequent action. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. The anti-vaccine movement, for instance, has rapidly spread the false information that vaccines can cause autism and anti-vaccine posts and memes are constantly shared on Facebook and other platforms. People can sort themselves into groups with like-minded people and share the information they have found among themselves.

Social media can also be used to raise awareness about health issues. For example, the Ice Bucket Challenge, spread rapidly during the summer of 2014 and rose over $156 million for ALS research. This campaign increased usual donations over 800%! By tagging posts with the hashtag #icebucketchallenge, people were able to view (sometimes) hilarious videos of people that may not have even known. And while most people only interact with their small network, the interconnectedness of the networks allowed for the challenge to spread across the globe.


2 thoughts on “Social Media for Health

  1. Great job on the infographic Jersey!! Excellent way to show what some of the crazy numbers behind the Ice Bucket Challenge actually mean. Think an effective way to enhance this story with the elements already here would be to rearrange the content: love the image up top, and nice to follow with your opening paragraph signaling Shirky, then your infographic, followed by the last paragraph. It’s also helpful to insert a link to the Challenge for readers to learn more, be inspired, and motivated to mount their own campaign for a health issue they care about: NIce work!

  2. It’s your slacker teammate, Jersey! Just figuring out how to do these peer reviews, so catching up now that we’re steered away from the bCourses site. Sorry for the tardiness of my review of this post. You chose probably the best recent example of a viral health message on social media that I can remember. (And if I can remember it, it really was super-viral!) Seemed like everyone had a bucket of ice water nearby for a while there. I had to watch my back! Anyway, the infographic was really informative. As a social media skeptic, I couldn’t tell how much of the user engagement was humble bragging and how much was actual productive development. Clearly $156 million isn’t a trivial amount of money, and the timing of the annualized growth certainly looks like the social media campaign had a lot to do with the growth. Great post overall!

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