The Center for Disease Control (CDC), a federal agency which saves lives and protects people from health threats. To accomplish its mission, CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise. It uses fear to motivate citizens to avoid health threats, by showing real videos, like the one above, of people who have suffered from cancer, due to smoking.
The CDC provides content for use by other health advocates and promotes health messages itself over social media, leveraging the power and high citizen utilization of the internet and smart phones. The CDC has become a model for other government agencies in this usage of social media. Its social media home page looks nothing like one would expect a government site to appear; it is an outstanding example of what is possible.
The social media dashboard below gives a picture of its social media channel volume, although the dates lag the present.
In 2009, the CDC shifted strategies to leverage social media. The chart below shows the success trajectory. What did it do to get this kind of success? Some of the success methods are highlighted below:
- It leveraged its human networks of existing health advocates and teachers with outstanding tools, like the social media toolkit for health communicators.
- It created curiosity and eagerness with the CDC tip of the week, which was often picked up and rebroadcast by mainstream media, again leveraging existing influencers, such as the New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe, and the major TV network news shows.
- It created “Test your health IQ” games to create competitive fun for viewers.
Rather than commanding viewers to all head to the main home page, it wisely created multiple profiles, each with a specific purpose and target market. You can see below that the 4th highest following CDC Twitter profile is targeted at disseminating information about influenza.
The CDC is a government agency that performs like a top private company, accountable for measurable results which it transparently displays on its website; innovating with new ideas; pushing the limits with shock ads; leveraging social media and mainstream media; and leveraging government employees, educators, and other health advocates.