Using Social Media

Introduction to Social Media

The use of online platforms and other forms of social media can be a great asset to your organization’s communication activities. By employing virtual or online marketing, your organization may gain access to otherwise hard-to-reach target populations.

Tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can help broadcast specific health communication campaigns, promote awareness, and disseminate valuable information about your institution’s mission, goals, and initiatives.

The CDC social media website has many resources on the effective use of these types of tools. Specific documents to reference include:

Social Networking

Many of the resources described below are covered in great detail throughout the CDC social media website. Here you will find some fast facts and additional resources to help you consider the many options for incorporating a social media component into your organization’s outreach activities.

  • Facebook is a social networking site which allows individuals to create profiles and connect with others who also have profiles.
  • Since its original launch, the Facebook site has upgraded to allow organizations to create “pages” which allow for a variety of features to help promote programmatic information.
  • To learn more, or create your own profile, visit Facebook.
  • Twitter is an online forum for posting and receiving short pieces of information in real time. These posts are known as “tweets” and are restricted to 140 characters or less. Your organization can create an account which can then be linked to others who are interested in receiving information from you. This is known as “following.”
  • Your organization should carefully consider how to use Twitter to effectively reach different target populations. Organizations may even use multiple twitter accounts for varying departments, programs, and campaigns.
  • YouTube is a website which facilitates individuals and organizations uploading and sharing user-generated video content. Individuals can create individual accounts or organizations may create private password-protected channels to upload their videos. Since its creation in 2005, YouTube has expanded to offer functions such as closed captioning in many different languages.
  • To learn more, visit YouTube.
  • Visit YouTube for Government to learn more about how governmental agencies can effectively use YouTube.
  • To learn more about how non-profits are effectively using YouTube, visit YouTube Nonprofit Program.
  • Pinterest is a “virtual pinboard” which allows individuals to create a personalized space for bookmarking, saving, and organizing their favorite online materials such as pictures, links, articles, and videos.
  • Pinterest users or “Pinners” are able to network with one another by sharing “pins” or following “boards.”
  • Organizations can install “Pin It” buttons onto their websites. A “Pin It” button enables readers to “pin” or bookmark articles, web pages, or tools that you have offered to their own personal boards.
  • Incorporating visual elements into communication activities is a valuable tool for an organization wishing to engage their target populations.
  • Instagram is an application or “app” designed for IOS (Apple product) or android technologies such as touch phones, iPods, or iPads. Instagram enables photos taken from a mobile device to be uploaded and shared instantly both through the Instagram platform as well as a variety of other social networking sites. Individuals or organizations can create an account, upload, and share their photo-stream within their online social networks.
  • Although an Instagram account must be created and generally managed from a mobile device, Instagram recently unveiled web profiles so that pictures could be viewed online, reaching target audiences outside of smart phone users.
  • Many third party applications exist to help integrate the Instagram photo stream.
  • Instagram allows users to apply special filters to their photo stream, ensuring greater impact for images which they would like to share.
  • Similar to other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram accounts may be followed and tagged. This could be used in numerous ways from promoting campaigns, to allowing participants to upload photos of program activities that they have participated in and tag them to your organization or campaign.
    • To learn more, visit Instagram.
    • You can also check out these suggestions which may be applied to organizations using Instagram.
Integration of Social Media Tools
  • Your organization should consider how to effectively integrate all of the chosen forms of social media together.
  • For example, Instagram can be used to post pictures not only through the Instagram platform, but through Twitter and Facebook as well.
Buttons and Badges
  • Buttons are icons such as health equity campaign or program logos, which are used to promote the social media platform activities for programs and organizations. For example, a health campaign may embed a Twitter “follow button” into their overall website to encourage Twitter users to follow their tweets.
  • Badges are icons which are made available to target populations who access an organization’s social media. Individuals who participate in organizational activities can use the icons to support their favorite organizations or causes, or update their status to reflect their participation.
  • Check out these CDC guidelines Cdc-pdf[PDF–245KB] for the use of Buttons and Badges.
  • Check out these specific social media sites’ buttons.