During the time of COVID-19 social media can be used to collect and address rumors or popular beliefs among target audiences, share evidence-based and timely health information, receive instant feedback on materials, conduct remote trainings, promote awareness of a project, its mission and events, and more.
Social and Behavior Change (SBC) and Social Media
In 2010, 970 million people had access to social media. Today,. A of over 26,000 social media users worldwide found that 57% felt that social media gave them access to more information and ease in communication.
What types of social media exist?
- Social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
- Video sharing (e.g., YouTube, TikTok)
- Business networks (e.g., LinkedIn)
- Photo-sharing platforms (e.g., Instagram, Pinterest)
- Chat apps (e.g., WhatsApp, Telegram)
In each of these types, the over-arching characteristics include:
- Connections and relationship-building
- Speedy delivery
- Not limited by geography
What is the worldwide access to social media?
According to Backlinko, access to social media is growing worldwide. Between 2019-2020 alone, social media grew regionally as follows:
- North America: +6.96%
- South America: +8.00%
- Europe: +4.32%
- Africa: +13.92%
- Asia: +16.98%
- Australasia: +4.90%
It is important, however, that SBC program managers planning a social media campaign check the availability and coverage of social media in their specific region/country as part of their preliminary research.
Social media and SBC
Due to the unique characteristics of social media mentioned above, it is an excellent vehicle for social and behavior change.
In a World Bank blog, the authors state, "Leveraging social media for social and behavior change communications is a natural and needed next step for addressing large-scale challenges , including the ones presented by COVID-19. The potential of social media is clear." The blog also relates some lessons learned thus far in the use of social media for SBC, including:
- Social media — and edutainment — can help reduce frictions and barriers that are in the way of individual action
- Social media, being social by design, relies on people’s identified communities
- Social media campaigns can promote the download and sustained use of development apps, complementing offline interventions.
- Social media offers a unique opportunity to carry out evaluation research in an iterative manner
That same blog asks some important questions:
- Can social media campaigns for these issues break through the noise of the multiple messages that populate our social media feeds?
- And if they do, how does our “online life” translate to “real-life” behaviors?
- How do we measure the effectiveness and real impact of social media campaigns?
A study published in 2020 by the Journal of Medical Internet Research of 2,555 social media users in Jordan concluded with the following statement:
|"Our findings suggest that the use of social media platforms can positively influence awareness of public health behavioral changes and public protection against COVID-19. Public health authorities may use social media platforms as an effective tool to increase public health awareness through dissemination of brief messages to targeted populations. However, more research is needed to validate how social media channels can be used to improve health knowledge and adoption of healthy behaviors in a cross-cultural context."|
Social media will only grow in platforms, usage, and availability across the globe. Likewise, its potential for use in SBC will expand. The examples listed below of both tools and project examples are shared as inspiration for SBC professionals seeking to include social media in project design and implementation.
The authors of this article followed and examined COVID-19–related rumors, stigma, and conspiracy theories circulating on online platforms, including fact-checking agency websites, Facebook, Twitter, and online newspapers, and their impacts on public health.
Unlike historical pandemics, such as the 1918 H1N1 pandemic, COVID-19 is spreading across a highly connected world, in which virtually all individuals are linked to each other through the mobile phone in their pockets. Because of strict physical distancing measures, people are heavily reliant on maintaining connectivity using global digital social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, to facilitate human interaction and information sharing about the virus.
This review focuses on misinformation that appeared early in the pandemic. During this phase, little was known about the virus, such as how it spread or how infected people could be treated most effectively.
This page offers a link to a webinar asking important questions about using entertainment media, inlcuding social media, to shape social and behavior change.
The authors ask whether social media campaigns for health issues can break through the "noise" of the multiple messages that populate social media feeds, and if they do, how does the public's “online life” translate to “real-life” behaviors? How can one measure the effectiveness and real impact of social media campaigns?
"While evidence indicates the potential benefits of social media to behavior change communication, this paper, drawing on current literature, emphasizes the need for a strategic deployment of social media.
"This paper explores the ways in which digital and social media channels can be used successfully, appropriately, and responsibly to drive behaviour change in young men and women from lower socioeconomic groups.
This checklist is designed to help in the development of more effective SBCC materials for young people.
This toolkit provides information about currently available mobile messaging technology solutions, as well as things to consider when selecting a vendor and deploying a mobile health, or mHealth, campaign. It is meant to be used with other resources on project design, content development, and behavioral change communications, including Planning an Information Systems Project: A Toolkit for Public Health Managers.
This guide that explains how mHealth serves newborn health through referral and tracking of mothers and infants, decision support for CHWs, CHW supervision, scheduling and tracking postpartum and postnatal visits, and teaching and counseling for mothers and families.
This toolkit was designed to provide guidance and to share lessons learned in more than three years of integrating social media into CDC health communication campaigns, activities and emergency response efforts.
This document provides a set of quick recommendations to listen, track and respond to your audiences and providing timely, accurate information about COVID-19 using social media. It also includes social media content and templates so you can edit this content into local languages.
To assist in the planning, development and implementation of social media activities, several guidelines and tools were developed to provide critical information on lessons learned, best practices, clearance information and security requirements.
This guide helps the user to write more effectively using multiple social media channels, particularly Facebook, Twitter, and mobile phone text messaging. The guide is intended for a beginner audience, although some readers with an intermediate level may find it useful too.
"Social listening is the monitoring of a brand's social media channels for any customer feedback and direct mentions of the brand or discussions regarding specific keywords, topics, competitors, or industries, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on those opportunities."
This brief offers practical guidance on how to use social listening as a tool to inform SBC programs. It is intended for global and regional SBC program implementers, evaluators, and donors in USAID priority countries.
The proliferation of disinformation online amidst the DRC’s outbreak of the Ebola virus is a serious threat to global health.
The Breakthrough ACTION Guatemala COVID-19 Prevention Campaign developed a set of Facebook posts to raise awareness that COVID-19 threat continues in Guatemala.
This material is a guide to those who would like to learn how to manage their facebook page. This was developed as part of the program of guidance in social/digital media management for health personnel. It is part of a larger program to enhance the capacity of service providers and other health personnel.
These cartoons posted on Instagram remind the public, represented by a toothbrush, to wear a mask when going outside, make sure the mask covers your nose, maintain physical distance in school, and maintain physical distance when with others.
Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria and partners are supporting the #TakeResponsibility social media campaign of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) through various social media activities.
This material is promoting the official social media platforms for the PromKes Health promotion unit in Indonesia.