Social Media and Community Engagement Essay
Social media channels are designed to be engaging, but they are often used by public health
organizations and practitioners as a means to disseminate mass information, rather than to
engage audiences in meaningful interaction. Harnessing social media to best achieve public
health outcomes is a topic of much discussion and study in the public health community.
For this assignment, you will analyze public health communication via social media in your
community. Follow a public health organization, local or national, on a social media
channel (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other) for at least 3 weeks. In a paper of
1,000-1,250 words, address the following:
Describe the organization you followed and the social media channel you selected. What
kind of information is shared on social media by the organization?
To what degree does the organization engage with users/followers (e.g., responding to
questions, engaging in conversation, hosting “chats” with experts, soliciting information)?
What improvements or suggestions would you make to this organization regarding its
social media and community engagement? Why? Use examples and evidence from the
research literature to support your suggestions.
Identify at least two benefits/advantages and two challenges/risks of using social media for
public health communication. Use examples and evidence from the research literature to
support the benefits and challenges you highlight.
Incorporate three to five resources to support your analysis.
Social media and community engagement
Technological advancements are increasingly necessitating organizations to adopt new
communication and engagement perspectives to reach out to the target audience across the
world. Public health organizations across the world are utilizing social media which are the
online networking sites for instant communication and interactions in achieving their intended
objectives. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a public health organization
founded in 1946 with its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia (CDC, 2019). The CDC mission is to
protect the American individuals and population from health hazards and public health security
threats within and across the world. The CDC endeavors to fight diseases while also providing
the prerequisite support to communities in taking proactive actions against preventable and
chronic disease conditions (CDC, 2019). As such, the CDC attempts to identify the potential
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risks while responding to the conditions by adopting the evidence-based practice in reducing the
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses Facebook as its major social
media platform for communication and dissemination of critical information regarding public
health (CDC, 2019). Facebook offers a virtual opportunity through which it is possible to share
various media contents, blogs, and engage in social networking. CDC capitalizes on Facebook’s
prowess in reaching out to its targets across the American nation and the world. CDC
personalizes the health information for a specific target population through its Facebook
platforms. Besides, CDC operates numerous Facebook accounts with specific content message
for specific individuals that include information relating to tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS,
traveler’s health, the prevention of chronic ailments, polio campaigns, breast cancer, diabetes and
customized messages for nations within its regions of operations (CDC, 2019). The Facebook
platforms also provide a chance for developing leadership insights and highlights critical for
individuals, communities across the globe. Thus, the CDC aims to spread its message to
individuals as a way of empowering them in making healthy choices while avoiding the
predisposing diseases and risks under various conditions.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) engages its Facebook social media
users by making informative posts that endeavor to increase their comprehension of the public
health issue. CDC develops unique content in a bid to notify the online users and its followers in
understanding a specific phenomenon that is critical towards initiating pre-emptive approach in
handling the risk of various diseases. In most of the CDC posts, the site uploads viral videos
while also attracting other online influencers in assisting to develop its brand across different
consumers. Moreover, the CDC through Facebook posts makes exciting and sharable virtual
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content to stimulate the viewer’s perception while attracting them to respond to the posts. The
responses provide an opportunity for CDC to recognize their impact while also initiating future
actions towards the public health situations in different environments. In addition, CDC provides
an opportunity for engaging individuals who can ask questions while acting as a source of
timely, reliable and accurate information sourced through evidence-based practice. Therefore,
CDC’s Facebook main account is a source of informative and response platform for engaging
various users in promoting and sustaining healthier livelihoods by engaging in educational and
enlightening health concepts.
In promoting and developing social media and community engagements, various
suggestions would go along in enhancing the informative aspects for CDC Facebook posts and
interactive channel. First, it would be essential for the CDC to optimize the public health
messages posted on its Facebook platform. While developing an aim of reaching out to
numerous online users, it would be imperative to assess its information aspects that result in
higher user engagements. Through the approach, CDC would increase its community
engagement while also promoting sustained collaborations and education for its target population
on social media platforms. Second, the organization should involve in posting tailored content to
match the online user languages. Depending on the target population, the CDC posts can be
custom-made for various groups including the youth and aged population as a way of directly
matching their normal daily lives. Thus, getting the audience right would involve adapting to
their language thereby increasing the online community engagements.
Third, CDC could also focus on generating intriguing content to solicit for a response
regarding a particular public health phenomenon. In most of its posts, CDC focuses on informing
its audience while using illustrative videos to illustrate their concept. However, CDC could focus
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on advancing questions to the online users regarding how best their initiatives go along in
reducing the public risk. With the numerous programs and projects undertaken by CDC across
different regions and populations, it would be imperative to assess real-time feedback from
Facebook users and gauging the extent of their influence across the populations. Fourth, the
organization would scale down to one Facebook account in a bid to improve its concentration
and focus towards information access. Since Facebook has an option of attracting several users,
CDC in developing community engagement could make their informative posts over a given
period in the single account to reduce the confusion among online users of having to respond to
different accounts. Again, making short posts at non-peak periods would entice numerous replies
and responses from the Facebook community for engagement. Moreover, the organization could
partner with different online brands to act as its influencers to invite more users to its platform
while also promoting user-generated content for publishing in the CDC social media sites.
Social media offers various benefits for public health communication. First, social media
provides an opportunity for undertaking public health surveillance while also offering an
opportunity for influencing the public health policy (Fung, Tse & Fu, 2015). Through social
media platforms, it is possible to acquire information appertaining to a range of issues that have
the potential to affect the health of individuals. Second, social media for communication provide
a means of advancing online public health campaigns, health promotion and health education
(Freeman et al., 2015). While offering a virtual platform for users, social media makes it possible
to easily access information while also stimulating change for action. Third, social media for
public health communication provides a means of connecting professionals with similar
objectives for research and improvement initiatives through online communities.
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Nonetheless, social media for public health communication present various challenges.
First, the information often tends to be short as a way of attracting the reader which may result in
the exclusion of critical information critical for the public. With the intention to eliminate
duplicate content, the information may often fail to impact on the users. Second, different
individuals often incline to the use of diverse social media platform. As such, it would be
difficult to ascertain whether the information reaches the intended online audience. Third, social
media tends to bring the impression that the response and feedback represent the real-world. The
reality may be different as specific content users may focus on providing specific information
which may fail to represent the larger public health in the community.
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CDC Works 24/7. (2019, August 21).
Freeman, B., Potente, S., Rock, V., & McIver, J. (2015). Social media campaigns that make a
difference: what can public health learn from the corporate sector and other social change
marketers? Public Health Research & Practice. The use of social media in public health
surveillance. Western Pacific Surveillance and Response Journal, 6(2), 3-6.