244577 Healthfinder.gov and health literacy: Lessons learned and best practices on Twitter

Monday, October 31, 2011

Silje Lier, MPH , Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD
Jessica Mark, MPH, CPH , Digital Media and Broadcast Strategy, Home Front Communications, Washington, DC
Background: Social media have become popular channels for disseminating timely, immediate health information and engaging people in conversations on a number of public health issues. Twitter is especially effective in leveraging “word of mouth marketing,” reaching a wide audience and their networks, and building professional relationships. Methods: In spring 2009, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion followed a strategic plan to develop their Twitter presence, with the goal of promoting health by initiating themed weekly public health discussions. The plan included brand development (@healthfinder), proactive operating strategies and content guidelines, and evaluative baselines. This presentation highlights these strategies, provides results and metrics, and discusses best practices and lessons learned from hosting a Twitter chat. The goals of the chat were to engage people in addressing health literacy, and in forging new connections with each other. Strategies to accomplish these goals included collaboration with a panel of influencers, clearly defining roles, and providing follow-up to ensure continued conversation after the chat's conclusion. Results: As of February 2011, @healthfinder had more than 98,000 followers. The Twitter chat garnered more than 1,400 tweets with a potential reach of 767,396 users, and the hashtag was a top trending topic in the Washington, DC area. People from different fields connected, started, and continued a true dialogue. Conclusion: This account serves as ongoing case study of meaningful ways to incorporate health literacy and plain language principles into the medium of Twitter. Twitter can also be a catalyst for forging connections and sparking interdisciplinary dialogue.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
The audience should be able to: 1) Plan/develop a Twitter chat focused on a particular health topic that draws in commentary from 50 Twitter users. 2) List three operational Twitter best practice recommendations. 3) Identify two resources for incorporating health literacy principles into Twitter.

Keywords: Health Literacy, Communication Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have four years experience working on professional social media sites. I have also been involved with the office’s strategic social media approach and occasional Twitter chats.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.