Plan Strategy
The first and most important part of designing a social media campaign to promote healthcare is to plan the strategy. One early decision that needs to be made is known as audience segmentation and refers to designing which audience is most appropriate for the campaign (Evans, 2006). For example, some campaigns target a general audience and others segment the audience based on sociodemographic, cultural, and behavioral characteristics that are associated with the target group (Evans, 2006).The National Cancer Institute�s five a day campaign, for example, targeted much of their social media work at Hispanic people because of the recent data showing that they are less likely to reach their fruit and vegetable targets (Evans, 2006).

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Select Channels & Materials
After understanding the audience and understanding what the message needs to say, there is a need to select which media are going to be used to spread the word. In social media, the most common methods are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (Evans, 2006) and these are also the most widely used sources of social media. If spreading the message on YouTube, a video will need to be made whereas Facebook and Twitter rely more on traditional types of website advertisement schemes (Thackeray et al., 2012). This will all relate to how much money can be spent on the campaign and the target demographic � Facebook is more appropriate for younger users, whereas Twitter is used by a slightly older group (Thackeray et al., 2012).

Develop Materials & Pretesting
The materials will then need to be developed and analyzed to ensure that the message desired is conveyed accurately. Showing the scheme to a number of different individuals and groups is a way of ensuring that there are no problems with the message and that it is not offensive in any way. Focus groups can also give feedback and pretesting to ensure that the campaign is up to scratch (Neiger et al., 2012).

After the scheme has been developed and tested, it needs to be implemented on one or more social media networks. In the case of more traditional advertisements on Facebook and Twitter, these can be rolled out at any previously allocated time and the advertisement space bought from the provider (Neiger et al., 2012). In the case of a Twitter hashtag, it will probably need to be implemented gradually to get people talking about the health issue and to ensure that the message is being spread to the appropriate audience (Chretien & Kind, 2013). YouTube videos can be distributed at any time but will usually need to be linked to by one of the other social media sites (Chretien & Kind, 2013). This part is all about getting the message across to the relevant parties.

Assess Effectiveness
The majority of social media sites have tools that can be used to measure audience size and demographics. These are useful to ensure that people are getting the message and that the campaign is effective. Additionally, features such as Likes (Facebook) and Retweets (Twitter) can be used to ascertain how much people really enjoy the campaign and are getting behind the message (Chretien & Kind, 2013). Reading the comments can also help to see what reactions people are having. It is also important to measure the health data before and after implementation at regular intervals to ensure that it is having an effect on people�s health rather than simply being a successful advertisement (Chretien & Kind, 2013).

Feedback to Refine Program
Feedback can be gained through any major social media site. Additionally, further focus groups can be used to see how people are responding and if there is anything that they think can be changed to improve it. This is an important part of a social media health advocacy campaign as it allows you to gather knowledge which can be used in future campaigns (Chretien & Kind, 2013).

  • Chretien, K. C., & Kind, T. (2013). Social Media and Clinical Care Ethical, Professional, and Social Implications. Circulation, 127(13), 1413�1421.
  • Evans, W. D. (2006). How social marketing works in health care. Bmj, 332(7551), 1207�1210.
  • Neiger, B. L., Thackeray, R., Burton, S. H., Giraud-Carrier, C. G., & Fagen, M. C. (2012). Evaluating Social Media�s Capacity to Develop Engaged Audiences in Health Promotion Settings Use of Twitter Metrics as a Case Study. Health Promotion Practice, 1524839912469378.
  • Thackeray, R., Neiger, B. L., Smith, A. K., & Van Wagenen, S. B. (2012). Adoption and use of social media among public health departments. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 242.