The power of social media to engage communities in health promotion

The power of social media to engage communities in health promotion

Social media is a popular and innovative communication and education tool, offering opportunities to engage with large audiences and modify health behaviours. It is most valuable when combined with other strategies to achieve program objectives.

cohealth’s Health Promotion and Communication team recently implemented two social media campaigns as part of broader breastfeeding promotion and asthma self-management promotion programs.

The breastfeeding social media campaign aimed to amplify key messages celebrating and normalising inclusive breastfeeding practices and raise awareness of the importance of social support for breastfeeding. The campaign was part of a broader program, including capacity building of communities and breastfeeding-supportive settings, delivered in partnership with GenWest, City of Maribyrnong and the Australian Breastfeeding Association .

The youth-led asthma social media campaign aimed to increase knowledge of and access to asthma self-management information and support for young people as part of the broader Improving Childhood Asthma Management (ICAM) program. The videos for the campaign were developed in partnership with cohealth, CHASE and Khorus Media.

Both campaigns featured storytelling from community members engaged through participatory interviews and workshop techniques. The campaigns were launched at relevant calendar points and used organic and paid posts targeting specific populations on cohealth and partner social media channels. The modest budgets ($350 breastfeeding and $900 asthma) were split between driving views and traffic to the linked pages.

Both campaigns achieved considerable reach (breastfeeding 45,152 people, asthma 209,032 people), engagement (breastfeeding 489 times, asthma 2,690 times) and clicks through to supporting resources such as cohealth’s website and asthma information (breastfeeding 1,405 times, youth 689 times).

Key takeaways:

  • Paid advertisements increased reach and targeted ideal groups for the campaigns with relatively low cost compared to organic posts and reduced ‘switching off’ the broader organisation’s audience.
  • Storytelling enhanced engagement with content by audiences.
  • Engagement with partners, including cohealth’s Communications team, increased access to audiences and expertise.
  • Important ethical considerations, practices and communication are required to successfully design and deliver an inclusive social media campaign.

How has your organisation used social media to communicate health promotion messaging in your community? Tell us what worked or didn’t work for your organisation by submitting a blog story using the template below.

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