Considering that I’m not much of a social media user, I have not been paying particular attention to all the changes going on around me with the level of activity that has increased using these types of platforms. A little bit of searching on the web has changed my perspective quite a bit. Not that I didn’t believe that social media was taking flight and soaring at heights that have never been seen before, but my perspective on believing that this type of communication tool could be used to make a positive change! I first consulted Statista, a credible source of statistical data across many different disciplines, and learned that the results of a 2013 U.S. survey demonstrated that almost 85% of grocery retailers with a registered dietician on staff promote health and nutrition by using social media. Times have changed!
A little closer look at the social media platforms being used and I soon came to realize, that Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are among the most popular and/or effective for social media messaging. However, it seems that majority of the organizations which are using social media are not sticking to one, and from the words of an expert in the field, Heather Mansfield, author of “A How-to Guide for Nonprofits – Social Media for Social Good” this seems to be a wise decision to make. It’s important to diversify your brand online and by using various tools, you are likely to reach different types of audiences.
Being the largest social network in the world, Facebook is definitely a great starting point for nonprofits to build an online presence and to start networking with important players in the public health field. An interesting article in the Journal of Interactive Advertising featured an article “Health organizations’ use of Facebook for health advertising and promotion” by Park and colleagues from the University of Missouri reported nonprofit health organizations are most active in making wall posts compared to any other health organizations. What makes Facebook so popular is because it enables people to participate freely, be open about views and opinions, engage in conversations with people, feel a sense of community and finally to feel connected to others. The list is endless, no matter what nonprofit organization that comes to mind, you’re likely to find that they already have a face book page. After all, one of the keys to success is to be an early adopter. Some examples of nonprofits with hundreds of thousands to over a million people who have “liked” their Facebook pages are:
The World Bank: https://www.facebook.com/worldbank
United Nations: https://www.facebook.com/unitednations
Doctors Without Borders: https://www.facebook.com/msf.english
Samaritan’s Purse: https://www.facebook.com/SamaritansPurse?fref=ts
At first glance, all these organizations have eye-catching cover photos which reflect their message to the public about their mission and how they plan on changing the world. These organizations are about the people and about engaging with the people – the personal touch that Facebook adds is what makes it so successful.
This social media platform is definitely not as popular as Linkedin, but it is a must have if a nonprofit wants to find a way to organize a community of online supporters and to be able to recruit volunteers who are invested in their cause. Its a great way to get like-minded people in the public health arena to join hands. LinkedIn provides a platform for professionals to showcase their experience and skills and also enables them to seek the kind of expertise and knowledge that they are in need of. This is a great way to share news with those in the professional arena and in doing so, may catch the interest of those who may have the knowledge and skills to contribute to the type of work that you are doing. A short article by Daniel Hartman, summarizes 10 key tips that enable nonprofits to make the most out of using LinkedIn for social networking. It’s encouraging to see how nonprofit organizations share information with one another such as through LinkedIn posts that often originate from another source of social media! There is truly a sense of solidarity that is being built through social media networks which in turn makes nonprofits stronger.
Have you heard of Google+ yet? Well it may not be be as popular as other social media tools. However, Google is by far the most widely used search engine. Check out the stats…
So what does this mean for a nonprofit organization that wants to develop a stronger presence in the online community? Using a Google-based social media networking platform is going to help increase search engine optimization so this is definitely a good idea! Also, you can easily link YouTube channels to your Google+ accounts, so this helps to also increase the accessibility to one of the “Big Three”.
So you ask, how can these social media tools really change your life? Well for one, they serve as a source of readily available information and a way for us to engage with public health organizations of our interest in a more personal and meaningful way. And of key importance is that these social media tools help people to build strong networks that ultimately empower public health organizations to make a change. It creates a space for sharing “best practices” as well. With better input comes better output. It’s as simple as that.