Social media is an easy, cost-effective way to reach a large audience, making it a primary communication tactic for many health-related organizations. This article explores how these organizations can effectively use interactive social media networking to engage audiences with health-related topics and enhance their credibility online.
Hyojung Park, Bryan H. Reber and Myoung-Gi Chon, from the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University and the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, conducted a content analysis of 1,583 tweets from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association.
Since social media sites have become a popular avenue for seeking out health information, health-related organizations now face a growing need to establish their credibility online.
Twitter users have an increased ability to disseminate health information by the use of hyperlinks, hashtags, and by liking and/or retweeting tweets as well as engaging with them by replying or tagging other users. This type of social media provides real-time, two-way communication, which is prime for sharing information and building relationships.
The study looked at the use of Twitter’s interactive features, such as message functions and engagement indicators. The specific engagement indicators include retweets, replies, hyperlinks, hashtags, photos and videos. Once the tweets were coded, they were then applied to health communication.
Quantity of tweets and original content were the main strengths in the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. But the American Diabetes Association proved to be most successful in enhancing their credibility by creating a community with complementary organizations.
The study reports that by engaging and interacting with their audiences on social media, health organizations are enhancing their credibility and have the opportunity to create communities. Twitter provides the perfect platform for health-related organizations to disseminate their messages by serving as a platform for engagement with its multiple interactivity tools.
To read the full text of this study: https://bit.ly/2ZJ0v5J
Park, H., Reber, B. H., & Chon, M. G. (2016). Tweeting as health communication: health organizations’ use of Twitter for health promotion and public engagement. Journal of health communication, 21(2), 188-198.