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10 Effective Public Health Social Media Campaigns


The health industry is increasingly turning to social media to support, promote and increase the spread of information and data in order to improve both personal and community health practices. By utilizing a cross-section of platforms, public health entities are able to combat rumors, encourage behavioral changes, and share information, all while allowing their audiences to engage and share feedback.

Below are 10 effective social media campaigns:

#1 World Heart Day

With a goal of reducing cardiovascular heart disease cases and strokes by 2025, the World Heart Foundation launched serveral social media campaings on various social media platforms. Recently, ‘Healthy Heart Selfies’, where people post exercise and health-related photos with the #PowerYourLife and #WorldHeartDay hashtags.

#2 Burnett Institute — FaceSpace

The project concept was to use fictional characters to interact and post content (primarily videos) on various social networking sites, with sexual health promotion messages embedded within some of these postings. The young people’s arm was developed and implemented first, with learning’s from this arm applied to the development of the MSM arm.
FaceSpace is a great example of using humor, narrative and character as part of a successful social media for public health campaign.

#3 World Heart Foundation’s World Heart Day

With a goal of reducing cardiovascular heart disease cases and strokes by 2025, the World Heart Foundation launched the ‘Healthy Heart Selfies’ campaign, where people post exercise and health-related photos with the #PowerYourLife and #WorldHeartDay hashtags. These are shared on the World Heart Foundation website and social channels.

#4 CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers

The campaign, which aims to get people to stop smoking, uses impactful images, and often frightening images in its print ads. These messages are from real former smokers. It was actually the CDC’s videos, focused on a real former smoker named Terrie, who describes what it is like to live every day with a stoma. The campaign featuring Terri was so successful, the CBC expanded on her message by holding a live Facebook chat where smokers shared their stories Calls to tobacco quit lines doubled during the first two weeks of the campaign.

#6 New York Alliance for Donation’s Organ Donor Campaign

The mission of the New York Alliance for Donation is to increase organ, eye and tissue donation in New York State through collaborative advocacy, education, promotion, and research. Their goal is to ensure a transplant for every New Yorker in need. This animated video explains the transplant waiting list, how someone becomes a donor, the process of matching organs, and signing up to share the gift of life.

They also have Facebook and Twitter channels to reach out into the community.

#7 #Movember: The Movember Foundation

The Movember Foundation focuses on men’s health issues. They commit to saving men’s lives by tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.

Their annual social media campaign, #Movember, proposes an enticing challenge to ditch the razors and grow out a mustache for the month of November to raise awareness and funds. Conversations about men’s health issues are started organically: “Why are you growing out your mustache?”.

These conversations then spread through social channels that grow traction and engagement. They tell the brand story and spread awareness in an authentic way. The Movember Foundation grasps the impact that social listening has on their community.

#8 Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS Association

The ALS Association ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ social media campaign raised over $115 million in August 2014 for ALS research.

It started when three men living with ALS posted a video of themselves dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. Then they each called out one person to perform the same challenge. Before they knew it, 17 million people had uploaded their videos to social media over a span of one month. Over 400 million people watched these videos 10 billion times.

#9 Know your Lemons: Worldwide Breast Cancer

The Worldwide Breast Cancer organization designed an image illustrating the twelve signs of breast cancer. This image is of 12 lemons sitting in an egg carton and it spread like wildfire over social media.

The campaign that backed up this image was called #KnowYourLemons and it taught women and men to easily recognize the 12 most common breast cancer symptoms. It also inspired the world to break the taboo and fear of this disease.

Using a friendly and approachable visual to explain breast cancer is what made this social media campaign so influential and shareable. Within seconds of looking at the carton of lemons, someone was educated on the signs of breast cancer without having to deal with a lot of text or any unpleasant images.

#10 World Health Day: World Health Organization

World Health Day is a day dedicated to raising awareness and an understanding of universal health coverage. This year the World Health Organization created a dedicated ‘campaign essentials’ page that armed everyone with the necessary tools to support and share the facts about World Health Day.

This page included a fact sheet, an infographic, an official hashtag, downloadable social media squares and videos. The goal was to motivate people to share at a local level in order to reach an international audience.

#11 #IDEFY: Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood launched #IDEFY, a social media campaign that inspired young people to use social media to share with the world what they defy – racism, homophobia, slut-shaming and beyond. They were asked to participate by posting an image of themselves on social media with the word DEFY written on their fist and a caption using the hashtag #IDEFY.

What was special about this social media campaign is that it was launched with a Facebook Live event at the same time that other related activations were taking place around the country.

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