3 types of social media that can change your life


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!

Statista graph

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.

1) Facebook

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.

2) LinkedIn


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.

3) Google+

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 4.03.57 AM

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…

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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.


3 social networking tools for meeting like-minded professionals


Ever wanted to meet or network with people that share your same interests but don’t know where to start? Make sure to get connected to the following 3 social media networking tools.

LinkedIn, Meetup and Facebook are social networking tools that provide a platform for like-minded professionals to share information, collaborate and build communities of practice allowing discussion of current topics such as industry latest news, trends and market data.

What are communities of practice?? Communities of practice are a group of people who converse about some shared task or topic in order to get better at it. 1


LinkedIn logo

LinkedIn groups provide a place to share content, find answers and improve dissemination of research. You can either join a group or start your own group. Is very easy to create a LinkedIn account and to join a group. I suggest the following tutorials:

Lynda LinkedIn tutorials: http://www.lynda.com/LinkedIn-tutorials/Up-Running-LinkedIn/383249-2.html

How to join LinkedIn groups: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWcmG6XwDvk

For public health professionals I recommend the following groups: Public Health Institute, American Public Health AssociationHealth Communications, Health Literacy and Social Scientists Group.

You can also follow the LinkedIn speaker series in YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=LinkedIn+speaker+series

The book Social Media for Social Good2 includes a section on how LinkedIn groups are also great tool to promote non-profits. A best practice for non-profits is to think about a group name that will help build interest and avoid narrowing the scope of conversation.

Facebook groups:


Another platform to share information and learn from other professionals in the field of health is Facebook groups.

In a survey conducted in September 2014, the Pew Research Center finds that Facebook users continue to be very active. Fully 70% of users engage with the site daily. This means is very likely for users to respond to your post, comment or questions in a timely manner.



Looking for ways to be connected with others in your local community? Check out meetup http://www.meetup.com

This networking tool helps you meet people in your local community that share your same interests. I conducted a quick search in my area and found many health related groups. This networking tool is an alternative for those who prefer the face-to-face interaction.


Blog References:

1 Clay Shirky (2008). Here Comes Everybody. Penguin Books, New York.

2 Heather Mansfield (2012). Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for 

Nonprofits. McGraw-Hill, New York.

How to Find a Job on LinkedIn

dream job image

Some people are lucky enough to have found their dream job in public health. They jump out of bed in the morning enthusiastic about their next contribution to making the world a better place. If you’re like me you are not one of these people. I don’t hate my job. I actually like it (more than I dislike it). I work in biotech developing and manufacturing lifesaving drugs, which is rewarding. However, I’ve learned that making these drugs is not a panacea for infectious diseases. Delivering these drugs to the people who need them most is the final step and just as important making them. I am ready for a change. The problem is looking for a job is hard work, especially when you’re already working. Therein lies the problem. So what is the most effective way to find a new job? LinkedIn!

LinkedIn logo

LinkedIn has several easy-to-use functionalities that facilitate the whole the job search process.

employment section of newspaper

Search for Jobs – There’s more to it than you may think. You probably already know you can search for jobs on LinkedIn. What you might not know is it is one of the most active job boards in the world (lynda.com). In other words, it is well worth your effort to focus your search here. Be sure your profile is up to date so those hiring can find you and LinkedIn can recommend appropriate jobs to you. Remember LinkedIn will look for jobs based on keywords in your profile. If you want to change careers then don’t highlight skills you don’t want to continue using. Instead emphasize skills you already have and want to develop in your next job. In my case, I would downplay my lab skills and focus on my policy experience. Rest assured all job search activity is private and not shared with your connections.

network of people



Build and engage with your network. Connect with people you know – colleagues, classmates, friends, and family. Remember LinkedIn is a professional social networking site so keep things professional. Periodically send them messages to keep in touch. Also, sharing updates is a quick and easy way to keep people informed about what you’ve been up to.


king penguin group


Join LinkedIn Groups. In Here Comes Everybody Clay Shirky discusses how social media helps individuals overcome the high costs to form groups thereby breaking down barriers to social (and professional) networking. LinkedIn is a perfect example of this in action. There are millions of groups on LinkedIn. Join some (or all) of the groups you are interested in. You’ll be able to join discussions, ask questions, post answers, and stay up to date on current events and industry trends. LinkedIn groups are a fantastic opportunity to network with people you may not otherwise have a chance to meet in person.


thumbs up


Give recommendations and your connections will reciprocate. Heather Mansfield says recommendations are like public references. Proper etiquette is to reciprocate with anyone who writes you a recommendation. So if you initiate the effort by writing recommendations for your connections then most will likely return the favor.

apply to job on laptop



Apply for your dream job(s). LinkedIn allows you to export your profile as a resume so when you do find a job of interest you can quickly apply. This is one more reason to keep your profile up to date.




Mansfield, Heather. (2012). Social Media for Social Good. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Shirky, Clay. (2008). Here Comes Everybody. New York, NY: Penguin.

Dream Job and Application image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Social network image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Thumbs up Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Social Media for the Health Organization: How to find the people you are looking for


So you’ve decided to get your health organization onto social media.  But there are so many!  How do you choose between Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare?


In this post I’ll discuss how the demographics of your target audience can help you decide where to focus your efforts.


If you want to reach: absolutely everyone

Use: Facebook  icon320x320

Facebook is the number one social media site for American adults, with 71% of Internet users (1).  And while Facebook hasn’t seen the same user growth in the past few years as some of the other social media sites, it has seen substantial growth in the 65+ age group (1).  Just because someone joined Facebook to see pictures of their grandkids doesn’t mean that they won’t use the rest of the site.

Another thing to note is that most people who use other social media sites also use Facebook.  So while other social media is growing, users aren’t replacing Facebook but rather are augmenting their social media experience (1).

There is a downside to the diversity and volume of people who will find you on Facebook: some of them may not like your organization, your cause, or your mission, and may post argumentative comments on your posts.  While discussion is good, you will need to have a thick-skinned moderator to prevent flame wars and block threatening commenters.  This won’t happen to every organization, or on every post, but unchecked, nasty comments can drive away the people you are trying to reach (2).


If you want to reach: college-educated job seekers

Use: LinkedIn linkedin logo

The LinkedIn user base is much more focused than Facebook.  LinkedIn users are generally college-educated urban professionals (1).  That makes sense, since LinkedIn is primarily a professional social media site, rather than a ‘fun’ social media site.  LinkedIn has also seen substantial growth in the number of women users, so it is not longer quite so male-dominated.

The challenge of LinkedIn is that many of the users still consider it a job-searching site, rather than a form of social media.  Thus you will have more success reaching users if your organization does hire educated professionals (rather than relying solely on volunteers).


If you want to reach: Google employees

Use: Google+ g+ logo

Really, there are only two reasons for your organization to have a Google+ page.  First, having a Google+ page will improve your rankings on a Google search.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important part of online marketing, and this is an easy way to do it (at least for Google searches).

The second reason to use Google+ is if you are trying to reach Google employees.  Honestly, it just never really took off with people outside of Google (and Google employees were required to use it for several years).

So by all means, make a Google+ page for your organization, link it to your website, and keep it up to date.  But don’t expect it to drive a lot of traffic or get a lot of followers.


Other social media sites:

While you should concentrate on the big social media sites, don’t discount the less managed or more niche sites. If your target audience shares a very specific set of characteristics, you might find that they have already grouped themselves.  Here are two examples:


If you want to reach: Fiber artists (yarn crafters)

Use: Ravelry ravelry-logo-81r-300x

Ravelry – This is, first and foremost, a yarn website.  Primarily, Ravelry is a place to share knitting and crochet patterns, projects and yarn.  But inside the groups there are tight-knit (ha) communities.  If someone in your organization is a member of Ravelry already, and your specific health topic is one that comes up frequently, you might consider asking that person to post a link to your organization’s website.  Don’t create a profile just to do this, as it will be interpreted as spamming.  But if you have someone willing to put their Ravelry account on the line, and your organization is relevant, this can be a good way to access people who might not have otherwise encountered your site.


If you want to reach: The tech savvy

Use: Reddit  reddit logo

Reddit – Reddit is going through some very hard times right now, but it can be a good place to find out what the Internet at large has to say about a specific health topic.  Reddit consists of topic-specific sub-reddits of user-generated content.  This can be links to articles, or questions posted by users.  Sub-reddits are maintained by moderators (users who volunteer to keep the conversations free of spam and generally on-track).  Be aware that reddit has some really awful (racists, sexist, just plain nasty) sub-reddits, so read several posts in a sub-reddit to get a feel for the nature of the community before you put your organization’s name out there.


Once you know who your target audience is, you can use your social media time more efficiently by meeting them in the places they already gather.


  1. Social Media Update 2014.  Pew Research Center.  (http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/01/PI_SocialMediaUpdate20144.pdf)
  2. Social Media for Social Good. Heather Mansfield, 2012.

My Top 4 Benefits to Joining LinkedIn


Having a LinkedIn profile in today’s professional world is becoming essential. It plays a key role in building and maintaining your professional network base as well as your online presence. As Karen Burns, a career advice writer, states, it is an “efficient & effective way to stay in touch with a whole lot of people.” linkedin contactsI was slower to adopt LinkedIn than others for a couple reasons. One, it’s not used much in my field (optometry), although that landscape is changing. And I felt self-conscious listing my credentials on the internet; I feared coming across as conceited (related: Sun wrote a great post about narcissism and blogging, here.)Despite these reasons, I eventually joined LinkedIn and now I’m happy I did. It’s been a nice addition to my professional networking toolbox and also serves as my digital Rolodex. Here are my

Top four benefits to using LinkedIn

1. LinkedIn’s Endorsements feature adds credibility to my professional profile through peer validation.

endorsements It’s one thing to toot my own horn, but it’s so much better if my colleagues do it for me. My connections vouch for my skills and expertise in a credible way. Endorsements have also served a way to see how my peers view me. For example, I feel I’m skilled in ‘medical education.’ Thanks to my endorsements I also know that others view me as being skilled in ‘clinical research,’ another area in which I work but do not self-promote. My LinkedIn profile also provides a glance at my work experience and personal interests. Past and present colleagues can add testimonials and endorsements, providing depth to references I’ve listed on my traditional CV.

2. LinkedIn helped me create a strong referral base and opened up job opportunities.

linkedin bubbles

Linking my LinkedIn profile to my email contacts and Facebook friends is easy. The service also suggests “People I may know” to increase my number of connections. These help me build a solid foundation of referral sources who share symbiotic interests. In addition, recruiters often scout LinkedIn first to look for passive candidates. No active job-seeking on my part; opportunities come to me. Although I have no immediate need to look for a new job, this keeps me open to new career possibilities.

3. LinkedIn allows me to keep in touch with those in my network I normally do not interact.

we're connected on linkedin I often meet people at conferences, work functions, or through colleagues of colleagues. But once the event has passed, it can be difficult for me to continue interacting with them on a regular basis. As my professional ‘Facebook,’ LinkedIn provides for me a casual avenue to remain active in their networks. In addition, the January 2013 report from the Pew Research Internet Project noted that LinkedIn is uniquely more popular in working individuals in the 50-64 year old range. So, it allows me to connect with others outside my age demographic who also share mutual interests and goals.

4. It’s free and requires little time.

Oh-Yes-Free I wouldn’t have joined LinkedIn if I had to pay and it took a lot of time to maintain. Thankfully, the majority of LinkedIn users dedicate less than 2 hours a week to cultivating their network. This is a small amount of time needed relative to the benefits gained.   This is not an exhaustive list of all the benefits of LinkedIn; just the ones I’ve experienced. Using LinkedIn isn’t mandatory, and I wouldn’t recommend using LinkedIn just because you feel obligated. It requires active engagement in order to get the most benefit out of the social networking platform. But, the additional online visibility can be invaluable in opening doors for your career.


PS, there’s a great infographic on hubspot’s blog outlining “The Lowdown on LinkedIn.” It’s a quick snapshot of facts and figures about the social media network.