The Consequences of Social Media

We have discussed in great detail how social media is beneficial to you, but now you need to know how social media affects your audience, because as a health organization, you should probably care about your audience’s health.

Social media, of course, is a way for people to connect with one another. I have friends on Facebook that I have barely talked to in real life, yet they “like” everything I say and do. Is this constant connection with friends, family and barely-friends a good thing? And why should you health organization care about this?

 

social-media-graphic

(Photo from http://www.thenewdaily.com)

 

Addiction

The first consequence is social media addiction. According to Medical News Today, “Recent statistics show that 63% of American Facebook users log on to the site daily, while 40% of users log on multiple times a day.”

We all have our reasons for using social media. We like the compliments, we like looking at other people and what they’re doing, and mostly because we’re bored. Nevertheless, a lot of people are using social media and spending a lot of time on it.

So many people experience Facebook addiction that there’s even a way to measure it now. That’s crazy! It seems that those who are often in need of a self-esteem boost have stronger addictions. But why is this addiction a problem?

Social media addiction creates anxiety within people. They feel like they have to be checking their social media accounts constantly so that they aren’t missing out or making anyone feel ignored. This is especially true nowadays for teenagers. According to The Guardian, they are literally losing sleep over the addiction. Not okay!

 

social-media-addiction-infographic

(Infographic from http://www.blog.twmg.com)

 

Mental Health

Mental health can be affected by social media. Medical News Today says that people compare themselves to their friends on social media. When these friends are showing off their great accomplishments, it can make others feel poorly about themselves. Also, hardly anyone ever posts about the negative moments in their lives, and when people do, we accuse them of oversharing or looking for attention. Time says we present the perfect version of ourselves on social media.

With everyone trying to put on a happy face and hide the bad things in our lives, it can leave people feeling depressed and anxious. All people see is a bunch of happy people while they may be suffering in silence.

Eating disorders are fueled through social media as well, according to USA Today. If you search #thinsogram #thighgap or #bonespo, you’ll find disturbing images of extremely thin men and women, encouraging others to follow their advice. Social media is a platform for those with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa to encourage each other in a negative way, offering tips to help them lose more weight and words of encouragement such as “skip dinner, be thinner.”

 

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(Photo from http://www.reasonwhy.es)

Narcissism

Getting a “like” feels great. We can all admit that. But what is that doing to us and to our relationships?

Social media causes shallow relationships, such as those barely-friends I discussed earlier. Why do we keep them on our pages? Probably because they increase our number of likes. I know, I’m judging myself here too. Psychology Today says that sometimes we even expect these likes or comments without even looking at other people’s updates. Makes you want to reconsider your social media habits, doesn’t it?

People are also ignoring their real life to get the attention they crave online. Do you have that one friend that can never get off their phone when you hang out? Try giving them a bunch of compliments. You may find that they start responding to you more.

 

Why your health organization should care

You may be thinking “how on Earth does this affect me?” Well as a health organization, you should care! People are being encouraged to participate in unhealthy eating behaviors, getting depressed and anxious, ruining their own relationships and becoming so addicted that they literally cannot function without checking their social media accounts. You should absolutely care, and you should do what you can to prevent it, especially since you’re self-promoting over the very thing that causes all these problems.

Men’s Health on many occasions has reminded its audience of the negative side effects of social media. Even sharing an article can help. Be sure to show your audience that you genuinely care about them. Social media affects them and no matter what your health organization is, your audience can experience these effects.

 

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(screenshot of Men’s Health Facebook page)

 

 

 

Best of luck,

Bekki C.

 

 

Read something you agree or harshly disagree with? Let me know! The cool thing about opinions is that they aren’t facts and can change at any time, including mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ethics and Your Organization’s Social Media Presence

Alright, I hate to switch gears on you so unexpectedly, but I’m going to switch gears on you. Knowing how to work social media websites, creating a strategy and evaluation are all important… for you. We now need to start thinking about how your organization is affecting/will affect others.

Your organization likely decided to get a social media presence for two reasons. The first, of course, was to get your name out there, which is perfectly fine. The second was to spread your health messages because (hopefully) you genuinely care about the cause you’re working for and want to help others.

That second part is where ethics come in. What ethical obligations do you have on social media? What ethical considerations should you take into account? Do your personal social media accounts matter?

Ethical Considerations

While thinking of your social media strategy, I urge you to take a very careful look at each post of yours. Can it in any way offend anyone? Can it be taken the wrong way? Is this going to be helpful?

A good way to answer these questions is by seeing if your organization’s cause (nutrition, diabetes, etc) has social media guidelines. For example, There are social media guidelines for mental health and suicide prevention made by TEAM Up. They offer tips that I would have never even thought of, such as using people-first language.

I like TEAM Up’s guidelines because it says that you need to actually respond to people reaching out. For mental health, this could be when someone posts suicidal thoughts, such as shown below.

 

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Also, try to stay away from being too trendy. As it turns out, people are more annoyed by it than anything, according to thinkprogress.org. What they were referring to was the disaster of using “The Dress” in a domestic abuse ad. Yikes. Doing something like this makes domestic violence look less serious, which is the exact opposite of what The Salvation Army wanted. “The Dress” was a lighthearted situation, that also caused a bit of annoyance for some, so using it for a serious cause proved to be more disastrous than helpful.

 

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(This picture was taken off of http://www.thinkprogress.org)

 

Ethical Obligations

Yes, your personal social media accounts matter, for everyone, but I’m looking hard at you doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. You are trusted by the public to be professional. Their lives are literally in your hands, so don’t be mad when people find out through your social media accounts that you’re wasted every other night and violate HIPAA laws. Speaking of which, please don’t do that. I mean, that should be obvious. However, people still think it’s okay to do it if you don’t include names. Just steer clear of talking about patients online, okay? It’s unprofessional.

 

(This picture was taken from http://www.newslinq.com)

 

You’re also obligated to read through the information you’re sharing, such as an article related to your cause. According to The Verge, more and more people are sharing articles without reading them through. This may not sound like a big deal, but who knows what could be said in the article. There could be incorrect information or something extremely insulting.

A silly mistake on your personal page isn’t much of an issue, but if you share without reading on your health organization’s social media accounts, you could get yourself in trouble, and there goes your credibility.

Negative Comments

What do you do when someone or a lot of people are posting negatively about your organization or on your posts? It sounds simple until it happens to you. Insight180 has some great tips when dealing with negative commenters. I’ll highlight the things I found important.

  • Always respond. “Conversation between an audience and an organization on social media is the epitome of transparency.” See if you can resolve the issue out in the open or message them privately.
  • If the comment is just rude, profane or unjustified, try to delete the comment if possible and block the user. It may just be an internet troll.
  • Develop a strategy for dealing with these comments
  • Don’t let negatively stop you from posting your beneficial posts!

 

Having a social media presence is a lot harder than it sounds, I know. Your organization is responsible for what it does and what it posts, so always put your best foot forward. Remember you are there to help your audience; use this to drive everything you do on social media, and think before you post! Use social media guidelines to help you through this, read through all the articles you share, don’t be dumb on your personal social media accounts, and know how to respond to negative commenters. You can do it.

 

 

Best of luck,

Bekki C.

 

 

 

 

Read something you agree or harshly disagree with? Let me know! The cool thing about opinions is that they aren’t facts and can change at any time, including mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Don’t Make Your Organization’s Success a Guessing Game

So you and your health organization know how to work social media sites, and you know how to generate good content (you’re welcome), but now you need to know if you’re actually succeeding at it. Now, I believe you are, of course, but your social media analytics may or may not agree.

What is Davey Jone’s locker is a social media analytic? Your new best friend. Tech Target says it is “the practice of gathering data from blogs and social media websites and analyzing that data to make business decisions.” Basically, it tells you if what you’re doing on social media is working or not.

 

(Image from http://www.ibm.com)

 

Social media analytic tracking is relatively new to the world, so social media sites are slowly but surely trying to help you out with this. Before, it was common for businesses to hire third party companies to track the analytics for them, but it’s pretty expensive. Luckily for us, sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and newly Twitter have given us a free analytics dashboard! Thanks guys!

Here are the sites that will teach you how to use their analytics dashboard: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

 

(This is a sample Twitter analytic dashboard from http://www.viewbistro.com)

 

What are analytics specifically measuring? Avinash Kaushik, the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, proposes four social media metrics that are measured.

Conversation Rate

You know how I said (like, a million times) that you need to engage with your followers? There’s a way to measure if you’re doing it enough! The conversation rate is the number of audience comments per post. You can do this with every social media site, and it’s easy to do on your own because it usually says clear as day how many comments you’ve gotten. Your conversation rate is arguably the most important (argued by me) because it forces you to really know your audience.

Amplification Rate

Amplification is the rate at which your followers share your content through their network. So for Twitter, this is a Retweet, for Facebook, it’s a share and so on and so on. Again, easy enough to measure, but there’s a catch. The only reason you want to measure this is to see what content is generating the most amplification, so that you could post that kind of stuff more often. That could be tricky to do yourself, so take advantage of those free analytic dashboards where applicable.

 

(Picture from http://www.everything-pr.com)

 

Applause Rate

This is your organization’s pat on the back for a job well done. It doesn’t seem like it means a whole lot, but now you know you got some attention. The applause rate is the likes or favorites you get on a post. They may not seem as helpful to you as a Retweet or share, but don’t think that way. It just means your audience likes what you’re doing, and that’s great! A bunch of likes can make your post stand out above others.

Economic Value

This is where hard business comes in. For you, this means whether or not your organization is generating donations and what have you through your social media. Health organizations are obviously a lot different than businesses; you’re trying to help people, not roll around in money. But, at the same time, money does make the organization go ’round.

Economic value is the sum of short and long term revenue and cost savings. Basically, is your social media presence bringing in enough money to pay the people you need to pay and pay for the things you need to pay for? Are people donating? Are other organizations or even companies talking about you or with you? Do they want to pair up for events? Is anyone talking about you? You don’t want to waste your time if it’s not working, right? Read up on macro and mirco conversations. This is a metric that will have to be done with an analytic dashboard.

 

(Picture from http://www.charitychap.com)

 

The National Institute of Mental Health is a well-known organization. They have a great social media presence! They must have gotten to my tips before I even wrote them. Their conversation rate, amplification rate and applause rate are fabulous on all their social media websites! They post great articles, invite others to participate and post pictures. Check them out!

 

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(This is a screenshot of NIMH’s Twitter page)

 

Social media is a lot more work than you thought, right? I know, but I believe in you and your health organization. If you haven’t thought about hiring someone specifically for social media, I would at least consider it! There are also a number of third party companies that will help you with analytics, if you believe that’s what is right for you. That’s one quick Google search away. I hope your analytics boards show you great news!

 

Best of luck,

Bekki C.

 

 

 

 

 

Read something you agree or harshly disagree with? Let me know! The cool thing about opinions is that they aren’t facts and can change at any time, including mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

There is No Success Without Strategy

I’ve been more than happy to describe how specific social media can help your health organization and how you use them, but now it’s time to get serious. It’s great to know all that information, but it’s useless without having a social media strategy. So, let’s develop one together.

20-social-media-icons

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want to cover some important concepts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guide to Writing for Social Media is an excellent read that I highly encourage you take a look at. It agrees with all my other blogs in saying that your social media’s outreach should have four main goals: defining a target audience, determining an objective, selecting the proper channel for your message and deciding how much time and effort to invest in it.

We’ve talked a lot about finding your target audience, so I’ll skip this one, but here’s a good link just in case you need a little more help.

The CDC’s Guide brings up a phrase, “plain language,” which basically means KISS, Keep It Simple, Stupid. Here are their tips for using plain language.

  • Quickly engage the reader.
  • Limit use of jargon, technical, or scientific language.
  • Write in active voice.
  • Keep messages short.
  • Write in a friendly but professional tone. Sound familiar? (Yes, I’m giving myself a compliment.)
  • Choose words with one definition or connotation.
  • Use measurements that are familiar to your audience.
  • Choose familiar terms, and use them consistently.
  • Use acronyms with caution.
  • Use numbers when they help you make your point.
  • Consider using alternatives to words expressing mathematical concepts. Maybe I’m bias here, but I don’t know much about math, so this is important to me!

Even though WebMD enables my hypochondria and makes me think every little pain is a deadly illness, they use great language on Twitter! Short, sweet and to the point while using other important tips to create good content.

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Creating content? What do you mean, Bek?

Creating social media accounts is not enough. If you want the attention and to achieve your organization’s goals, you must create good content. CDC’s Guide says social media content should be relevant, useful, interesting, easy to understand and share, friendly, engaging and action-oriented.

There are so many ways to create good content. Here are a few of my favorites from Forbes:

  • Fill-in-the-blank posts
  • Polls
  • Infographics, which you should definitely be using! Infographics are like, made for health organizations.
  • Fan photos
  • Posts that prove you’re an actual person.
  • ‘Caption this’ contests
  • Profile an employee
  • Sharing awards or accolades you’ve received, because you’re great and people should know.

A really easy way to make sure your content is great is to plan it out ahead of time (sorry to the procrastinators). Plan out your content on each social media platform from week to week, that way you aren’t scrambling for ideas the day of. I don’t want to see any scrambled egg content, because trust me, it’s obvious. Use any calendar format or even an Excel sheet to help you. Plan it out once a week, or even once a month if you think you’re ready, just be sure to fill in where needed. If something comes up aside from the scheduled content, be sure to post.

It’s also important to know your voice. If you have a fun voice for your nutrition organization, be fun! Be serious if you want to be serious. No one is more you than you. I believe it was Dr. Seuss that said that. Knowing your voice will create loyalty and add consistency to your content.

Time your content accordingly. You wouldn’t say “Merry Christmas” in April, so make sure you know what you’re saying is timely.

Edge_Infographic_Creating-Good-Social-Content

Listen!

People think they are listening when really, they are only hearing. ‘Hearing’ would be reading people’s posts and moving along. ‘Listening’ requires engagement, which I believe I have been quite clear that it is important.

Dave Kerpen, author of “Likeable Social Media,” another good read for you, wrote in his first chapter that communication is 50% listening and 50% talking. Listen to people’s stories. Listen to their advice. Listen to what they want. Interact with them. If they’re telling you that they lost five pounds because of your tips, you better congratulate them. If that sounds too demanding, than give your social media coordinator a raise, because this is how you get what you want.

People will love you even more if you prove that you’re listening. Your relationship with the public will grow stronger, and your goals are more likely to be achieved. To help with listening, stay up to date on hashtags so that you can skim through and react and leave your notifications on to alert you when your organization is mentioned.

Do you see below where is says “Very responsive to messages?” That is your goal. Right there. You go, Health Digest.

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Alright, folks. That’s all I’ve got in me. If you’re in need of more information, as I’ve said, the CDC’s Guide to Writing for Social Media is incredibly helpful and can offer you some examples. However, I’m very confident you can do this because you rock.

 

 

Best of luck,

Bekki C.

 

 

 

Read something you agree or harshly disagree with? Let me know! The cool thing about opinions is that they aren’t facts and can change at any time, including mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts.