This week, thinkers, innovators and social media users worldwide will celebrate Social Media Week to better “understand how humanity and technology come together to change the ways we live, work and create.” Here at APHA, where social media plays a major role in connecting public health issues with advocates, professionals and change makers, we wanted to join in on the fun! So, all week, we’ll be checking in with members of APHA’s social media team as we explore challenges they’ve faced, their favorite memories and tips for using social media to advance public health.
Today, we start by talking with Daniel Greenberg, self-proclaimed sports fan, lover of all things “throwback Thursday” and manager of APHA’s Facebook page. Daniel, who is also senior communications specialist and co-editor of Public Health Newswire, tells us about his day-to-day process, victories and challenges in sharing, liking, tagging and posting on Facebook. For more ideas, check out our social media tip sheet for Facebook.
There’s always something to share or say on Facebook. What kinds of topics, issues and discussions does APHA’s Facebook page dive into?
The better question might be, “What topics won’t we talk about?” Obviously we have limits, but one of our greatest assets in public health is that our scope is so vast. We have not only the flexibility, but the obligation, to talk about everything around us that affects our health. APHA is a public health leader so we address many public health issues: from climate change to gun violence, to tobacco, to health reform, to Ebola, just to name a few. As an administrator, I’m not doing my job if I’m afraid to join or drive conversations in all of them — as long as we’re staying true to who we are!
My goal on Facebook is to represent APHA’s best interests. To do this, I try to keep a few core strategies top of mind every day.
First: What is important right now? The more we can speak in real-time, the better we can advocate. Often times we do this by posting during a large-scale event, like President Obama’s State of the Union address or the Super Bowl.
Second: How can we advance public health or be of value to our members, our community and the general public? We have tremendous tools to offer on command, whether it’s a policy statement, fact sheet, letter to Congress, webinar, publication, professional development — the list goes on and on. But it’s my role to stay abreast of what’s going on in public health and tailor APHA’s messaging to drive people to relevant resources at the right time.
Third: What are our peers doing? APHA has nearly 60,000 Facebook “likes.” It’s important that we’re not just talking at 60,000 people; we need to listen to what they’re saying and talk with them as well. I’m constantly checking our news feed to see what peer organizations are posting, and often commenting myself. This not only lets me know what’s current in public health; it also helps build meaningful relationships and even partnerships.
Those would be my three suggestions to using Facebook as a public health organization: Be current, be helpful and be conversational. Of course I’m always looking for new tips, so don’t be afraid to drop APHA a Facebook message!
With so many means to communicate with one another today, how is Facebook unique in engaging with the public health community?
It’s simple: strength in numbers. Almost 1 billion people around the world are on Facebook and public health impacts every one of them, especially in the U.S. Americans spend more time on Facebook per day than they spend on their pets!
Aside from all the neat ways we can engage and empower the public health community on Facebook, its core strength is simply that it convenes so many people in one space. It’s a place we can truly put the “public” in our health messaging.
Another thing I love about Facebook is the “tagging” feature that allows users to directly call out your peers. For example, we used Facebook every day for our 2015 National Public Health Week “Face-Off” competition — note the double entrendre! — which allowed people to vote on their favorite public health events during the week. We used an NCAA basketball tournament-style bracket to call out eight teams — made up of public health schools, health departments and associations — and gave everyone on Facebook the option to “like” or “share” their preferred events, which were displayed in photos.
And our fans loved it! Of course, the eight teams got really competitive about it, doing everything they could to get their photos liked and shared by all the people! For just that one week, the photos resulted in 1214 total likes, 361 shares and 61 comments. While those numbers were nice, I was just as jazzed about the relationships we were able to foster because of it.
At APHA we have a goal to create a public health movement, and Facebook is an invaluable tool to help us get there.
If you had to create a “Throwback Thursday” post reflecting on one of your favorite Facebook moments with APHA, what would you throw us back to? And what are some of your favorite public health moments on FB?
Gosh, where do I start? I’ve been doing this for about three years so I know I’m going to miss so many of them.
But I can certainly think of a few that stand out for the reaction they got on Facebook. As an homage to those “listicle” geniuses at BuzzFeed here’s my top six!
- Seeing so many proud responses when CVS Health announced that they were ending cigarette sales in their stores;
- Quoting a medical expert saying that even though public health isn’t “as sexy as science” it saves far more lives;
- Partnering with CDC to create a Facebook community of “public health nerds”;
- An actual #TBT of former first lady Rosalynn Carter giving out APHA’s Presidential Citation Award more than 25 years ago;
- Hearing from so many of our colleagues on Public Health Thank You Day;
- Using the Ryan Gosling, “Hey Girl” meme trend to send a loving preparedness message to our fans on Valentine’s Day
As you can see we’re not just for science, for action and for health. We’re also for fun, especially on Facebook
As manager of APHA’sFacebookpage, what have your biggest challenges been? How have you been able to address them?
Public health is a big, big world and APHA is a big, big team. My greatest challenge is simply capturing the most important public health topics of the day — both at APHA and the larger public health community — in an average of three posts per day. Inevitably something will be missed every day when you have 25,000 members. So I need to make sure I don’t miss the really important things.
Being consistently timely on Facebook is also challenging. Because acting in real-time is paramount in social media, I’ve had to learn to respond faster and be plugged in longer to meet the demands of the 24-hour news cycle.
The only way I can do it is to lean on my colleagues at APHA. Every day they keep me and our entire social media team up to date with breaking news, upcoming events or policy debates. I promise you: APHA’s Facebook page is not a solo operation. It’s a collective effort of our staff, our members and our peers.
Although when you see us posting about an NBA superstar, I’m probably behind it!