In global health and development, social media can be used in many ways:

1. Disseminate vital health information and research, such as the World Health's Organization Facebook page, which has constant events such as World Health Organization's live Q&A on Facebook announcing the updated 2015 Medical Eligibility Criteria or the Live Briefing of COVID-19

2. Create a community of practice around a specific topic, such as Global Health (via Meetup), an online social networking site that facilitates offline local "meet-ups")

3. Connect with other professionals on closed or open Facebook Group for medical laboratory scientists

4. Track and monitor disease outbreaks, such as the use of social media during the Ebola crisis and COVID-19 pandemic (Topf & Williams, 2021)

5. Advocate for change, such as the #BringBackOurGirls or #MeToo campaign

6. Promote individual and/or organizational accomplishments and knowledge

7. Expand on fundraising efforts

Individuals and organizations participate in social media for a range of reasons. Some use social media as a platform to engage with others who share a concern or passion in hopes of learning how to do it better. As they interact regularly, they ultimately create a community of practice. Others use social media as a way of pushing information forward about a topic they care about.

Below we provide a list of resources for those interested in participating in global health communities of practice specifically and in developing social media content in general. 

Communities of Practice
  • +Social Good: This is a global community where people share world-changing ideas and spark action via social media. The group also hosts the annual +Social Good Summit, a two-day conference held during United Nations Week.
  • SM4GH Working Group: Social Media for Global Health connects those working in global health development and social media.

Resources for developing good social media content

  • Social Media Toolkits: A social media toolkit or packet that allows to share social media campaigns with others. Social media toolkits provide others with a campaign @ and #, sample Tweets and Facebook updates, and visuals/infographics to share, as well as a schedule of events. For example, End Malaria develops a social media toolkit annually for World Malaria Day
  • Many social media platforms have limits that restrict the number of characters per posting. Consider free URL (or website address) shortening services such as a to maximize relevant content.
  • Photo Editing: Photo-editing programs, such as Photoshop, PicMonkey, and Canva can help create captivating visual content.
  • Infographics: Great visual content comes in the form of infographics (visual images with illustrations, charts, or diagrams to represent information or data). Programs like Piktochart, Canva, and can help create illustrative infographics.

Social media's popularity consists of its accessibility: it is easy to use and is free in most parts of the world. With the potential for people to connect, express, learn, engage, and act with the simple push of a button, the power of social media is undeniable.

Social media most easily fits into the communications and dissemination activities within projects or organizations. The actual social media posts can be a joint effort, but management and strategy should be centralized within the communications staff. Developing a social media strategy and budget allows social media to be easily integrated into programmatic work plans and proposals.

Last modified: Saturday, 15 October 2022, 12:44 PM