Over the past few weeks, journalists, copywriters and communicators have been challenged to provide clear and trustworthy information related to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID19). But writing about health has been a constant challenge for our communications team at SenseTribe. For over five years, we’ve been creating health-related content for social media channels. In this short article, we’re sharing five tips on how best to communicate health topics on social media, based on our experience and expertise.
- Choose your sources carefully. It is difficult to share scientific-based content with a wide audience, but it is not impossible. And that is why big companies, governments, agencies are hiring copywriters to do it. Make sure to use reliable sources and data from public health organisations, such as the World Health Organization, ECDC in Europe, NHS in the UK, CDC in the US and so on, as well as research centres from public and renowned universities.
- Publication date matters. When writing about health topics, the publication date is relevant. Pay attention to articles that are published 2 years ago or older. Indeed, science and health topics are constantly evolving as research into them advances. Be aware of the latest updates in cases of pandemics, such as COVID-19. These topics have hourly updates and you may be sharing out-dated information.
- Technical terms may confuse your audience. Social media content must be informative and easy to understand. Reliable information doesn’t need to use scientific and academic terms. More and more health organisations are using language that is understandable to non-specialist readers to inform them about complicated diseases and vaccine-related topics. Follow their lead, make a simple post to catch your audience’s attention and add a call-to-action to get them to read the source your information came from.
- Illustration and graphic representation for complex subjects. Creativity is a powerful tool for complexity. Make designers and illustrators your close friends, they are awesome professionals that have the power to simplify complex subjects into beautiful and well-explained images or, in some cases, animations. If you have budget problems, don’t worry, the World Health Organisation has a communication toolkit for each topic available for free. You find visuals, animations (GIF) and infographics available for download from their website.
- Comments are not personal. People will comment on social media posts with strong statements, sometimes using rude words and aggressive statements. Keep in mind it is not personal, especially if you’re writing on behalf of an institution. The role of the content creator and community manager is to provide reliable and trustworthy information. Personal discussions will happen, and you, as a moderator, just make sure people remain respectful and that no fake news takes over your page’s engagement. And always remember, it is not about you, but a general opinion on the subject.
These are our most important observations. We believe we can make an important contribution to communicators that are trapped at this time of worldwide concern. We have an important role to play now, helping institutions to share reliable information and helping people to receive trustworthy updates.
If you need our support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ‘Meaningful Communications’. Our team will love to co-create ideas to help with your communication strategy.