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Using Facebook to Market Public Health

Facebook remains one of the largest marketing platforms available to organizations, so it makes sense to explore its potential for communicating public health information to communities. However, using Facebook advertising effectively can be challenging because studies have shown some limitations on one way communication through Facebook for audience engagement.

For example, in the Truckin’ Healthy campaign in Australia, researchers found that Facebook was not a good fit for their audience. This was because the truck drivers were not the right age for using the platform and that they lacked some of the technological skills that would have helped them use the app effectively.

Likewise, the campaign Don’t Know? Don’t Drink designed to encourage healthy choices during pregnancy in New Zealand did poorly as well. Researchers found that the one-way communication of advertisements on Facebook were perceived as condescending by participants and was unlikely to change a user’s mindset.

Finally, there is the American Healthy Adaptations for Life (HAL) campaign, focusing on nutrition and physical activity with menopausal women. Researchers found that although the ad was able to reach a large number of users, there was a lack of data on whether the ads changed behaviors.

Overall, these studies suggest that using Facebook for public health advertising can be a difficult task. Organizations seeking to use the platform should makes sure that it’s a good fit for their audience while also considering they can measure the effect of the ad on actual health behaviors.

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Storytelling to Promote Public Health

As marketers one of our most effective tools is storytelling. Audiences are more likely to connect with and remember a message that is associated with a story. Public health marketers can use this strategy highlight and reinforce their public health messaging.

Establishing Familiarity

As public health marketers it is important for us to establish familiarity with our brands. Communities are more likely to listen to organizations that they can connect with on a personal level. By engaging with storytelling, public health marketers can bring public health policy home and make personal for their audiences.

As public health marketers it is important to connect with our audiences and gain their trust. Audiences are more likely to connect with personal stories than generic messaging, therefore we must work to connect policy with the lived experiences of our audiences in order to promote public health.

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Audience Management for Successful Public Health Campaigns

Audience management is an important aspect of any social media marketing strategy. This is especially true for public health marketers trying to disseminate information about sensitive health topics. Sexual health and education are often seen as taboo and require in-depth knowledge of your audience to be successful.

Knowing Your Audience

It is not uncommon for individuals to be a bit uncomfortable or embarrassed when asking health-related questions, especially those surrounding reproductive and sexual health. Therefore, it is important to identify both your audience and their needs in order to tailor campaign messaging. Layla’s Got You was a successful multimedia campaign by the Public Good Projects out of Syracuse, NY to increase contraception knowledge of young Black and Hispanic women.

Collaboration is Key

The success Layla’s Got You stems from the incorporation of key audience members in the creation of the campaign. By collaborating with their intended audience, developers discovered that participants felt more comfortable speaking with a trusted friend about sexual topics. Using this information allowed Public Good Projects to develop the Layla, a chat-bot that can be used anonymously to answer questions regarding sexual health. To date, it has received 4,390 messages related to contraception or sexual health.

Sexual and reproductive health is a sensitive topic that can be difficult to talk openly about. Therefore, it is important to develop culturally sensitive content to connect people with the information they need. By collaborating with audience members to develop content, marketers can improve community buy-in and reduce negative health outcomes.

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Brand Relevance and Marketing

As marketers it is important for our brands to be relevant in the minds of consumers. Given the diverse set of needs in the market today it is helpful to target specific products to specific groups. Period products are marketed to women since women are the primary consumers of these items. While there are many period brands out there, Thinx has made itself relevant through social programs focused on education and equitable access to feminine products.

Target Group

Given that Thinx, sells period underwear their main target market is women and girls during their reproductive years. Thinx even has lines designed for women at different stages of their life to support their reproductive journeys. Thinx(BTWN) is period underwear for tweens & teens, making those first periods easier to manage. Speax by Thinx is absorbent underwear for women that experience bladder leaks, giving women discreate and reliable protection.

Brand Relevance

Thinx has made itself relevant in the minds of consumers by attaching itself to the greater issue of access feminine hygiene products for women and girls around the world. Working with organizations that expand access to feminine products and services makes Thinx stand out from their competitors. While educational programs like Every Body instills trust in the brand and its mission.

Thinx is one of many emerging brands connecting with their audiences through shared values and experiences. They are particularly relevant because they have attached their brand to the broader push for gender equality and equitable access to feminine products, a topic that resonates with their target audience. 

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Presenting Data to Public

As public health marketers, we often need to convey information to audiences that may not share our level of enthusiasm for the subject as we do, and therefore we need to bridge the gap by presenting key points quickly and clearly.  

When presenting information, it is important to try and meet your audience at their level of understanding. Keep jargon and industry terms to a minimum. Instead, use plain and simple terminology to connect the information to your audience’s life and lived experiences.

When giving presentations, be sure to include visuals and graphics to illustrate the key points and objectives. These visuals will likely be the most memorable part of your presentation. To keep audiences engaged, you can also try polling the room about a specific insight and compare and comparing the results to the data sample.

Above all, respect your audience’s time and keep your delivery tight. After a certain point, information is no longer being absorbed and retained, so you have to curate the data you present  to ensure it is relevant and essential.

When applied correctly, these strategies will improve your presentations and help your audience remember and connect with your message.

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When to Use Qualitative and Quantitative Data in Public Health Messaging

As public health marketers, we look at a lot of data when designing our outreach materials. It is important to use data correctly when designing your messaging to ensure audience buy-in.

Quantitative Data

Quantitative data sets are helpful when conveying the statistics, such as the morbidity and mortality of a specific disease, to support broad actions. For example, quantitative data could be used in messaging that stresses the severity of a disease on a population to sway public opinion. Or it could be used to demonstrate the overall impact of a policy in order to convince legislators that a specific program is needed.

Qualitative Data

Qualitative data, such as focus groups and observations, aid in messaging aimed at individuals. Qualitative data can be useful for adding a personal or human element to information. It is also important to know how your audience feels about a specific program so that the qualitative data can be better tailored to their wants and desires.

It would not make sense to use population statistics when trying to change an individual person’s actions. It also would not make sense to use participant observations to convince policymakers to fund programs. While neither type of data is better, they do serve different purposes and should be used appropriately in public messaging.

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Data Visualization and Community Comprehension

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For health officials, one of the biggest hurdles for starting a new initiative is explaining it to the community effectively, and the complex nature of health information does not help the situation. A large table filled with data can be overwhelming to audiences that are not accustomed to receiving information that way. Therefore, public health officials need to focus on the presentation of data. Not all audiences will have the same knowledge base, so making things clear and understandable is a must.

There is no one size fits all for data visualization. Different types of data sets call for a variety of different visualization tools. If you are looking to convey population or geographic data, it is helpful to overlay this info on a map so that people can easily find the information as it relates to them. Whereas publishing the same data in a list format might not be as clear or usable for the same audience. For other types of data, such as systems that have multiple steps, infographics are often the preferred method since they can pair text with visuals to clearly depict each element of the system.

In sum, it’s essential to pay attention to the content and audience of the message to determine the best form for that particular message. Combining elements effectively can make information much more understandable and useful for public audiences.