The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has produced this useful toolkit on how to use social media for effective communication related to health and health care. The toolkit notes: “Social media and other emerging communications technologies can connect millions of voices to:

  • Increase the timely dissemination and potential impact of health and safety information
  • Leverage audience networks to facilitate information sharing
  • Expand reach to include broader, more diverse audiences
  • Personalize and reinforce health messages that can be more easily tailored or targeted to particular audiences
  • Facilitate interactive communication, connection, and public engagement
  • Empower people to make safer and healthier decisions.
The CDC’s top twelve lessons from its own experience using social media are:
  1. Make strategic choices and understand the effort
  2. Go where the people are
  3. Adopt low-risk tools first
  4. Make sure the messages are science-based
  5. Create portable content
  6. Facilitate viral information sharing
  7. Encourage participation
  8. Leverage networks
  9. Provide multiple formats
  10. Consider mobile phones
  11. Set realistic goals
  12. Learn from metrics and evaluate your efforts
The toolkit includes sections describing common social media tools: online buttons and badges, image sharing, content syndication and RSS feeds, podcasts, video sharing and You Tube, widgets, eCards, eGames, mobile health applications, micro-blogs and Twitter, blogs, social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and virtual worlds.

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