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    Jennifer Doggett

    Jennifer Doggett

    What about the use of Twitter and other forms of social media for public health campaigns? Social media is becoming an increasingly more important part of mainstream marketing but it seems to me that public health campaigns lag behind commercial marketing practices in this area. Perhaps the public health community has something to learn from the private sector when it comes to adopting these new communication tools?

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    @ Jennifer – I think it’s already starting to happen. Are you familiar with the work of ?

  3. 3
    Melissa Sweet

    Melissa Sweet

    Comment from Margo Saunders:

    Ben Harris-Roxas, in highlighting the value of social media for health purposes, observed that our use of new technologies for health communication has often been ‘Flintstonian.’

    Indeed, the fear is that, as earnest and under-resourced public health advocates are still struggling to light a fire with their primitive tools, those whose products contribute to the undermining of health have leapt ahead to the era of fibre-optic cables and interactive media.

    The level of sophistication and resources being applied to such efforts becomes quickly apparent to anyone who follows developments in commercial marketing and compares them to Australian examples of health-related social marketing.

    The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation’s excellent 2008 overview of social marketing and health ( is suddenly looking quite dated.

    According to a recent report (, PepsiCo’s sports drink, Gatorade, is developing a new social media strategy in the USA that includes posting messages supporting social network users competing in high school sports events, and plans to respond to their sports-related questions.

    Gatorade has established a “Mission Control” in Chicago, staffed by four employees, to monitor user-generated online feedback among the target audience 24 hours a day.

    Whenever someone uses Twitter to say they’re drinking a Gatorade or mentions the brand on Facebook or in other social media, it pops up on a screen in Mission Control.

    When “influentials” or loyalists mention one of its stable of goods, their comments are given greater significance than other netizens. The staff recently jumped into a Facebook conversation to correct a poster who said Gatorade has high-fructose corn syrup. In the words of Gatorade’s marketing manager, “It’s like we’re a person in their social circle now.”

    Similar approaches are also being used by Foster’s, whose UK marketing involves close links to British comedy, with weekly updates calculated to appeal to Foster’s drinkers (

    According to Google, ‘We are starting to see more and more [brands] using part of their media budgets to commission and create programs and engage with brands through the likes of YouTube and Facebook. Some of the KPIs are driven around how many ‘likes’ they are getting on Facebook… and how many people watch the [YouTube] video.’

    Recent reports which have found their way into my files (courtesy marketing news service <> ) include the following information from the world of commercial marketing:
    · Companies have moved beyond traditional marketing and communications and towards creating ‘product experiences’, reflecting the perception that, as consumers are tuning out marketing messages, products need to engage with consumers in new ways.
    · To respond to consumers’ desire for engagement with brands, advertisers are creating digital content which consumers can influence, as well as online communities of consumers.
    · US companies, including PepsiCo, SaraLee and Kraft, are cultivating ‘mommy bloggers’ or ‘online female influencers’ who are ‘driving the conversation and shaping the social media landscape’.
    · Companies are using online advertising to deliver targeted, localised campaigns across the USA, with the ultimate aim of reflecting changing tastes as they occur.
    · Sponsorship is acknowledged as ‘nothing more than an amplification of the brand message’ which must communicate ‘compelling stories that meaningfully connect with consumers’.

    Combine all this with what Coca-Cola (a company that pulls no punches by relegating the ultimate aspirational emotion – happiness – to marketing tool) calls ‘emotionally-driven consumer engagement points’. Coke understands that you’ve got it made, ‘when you can engage with people and they feel good about your brand and they’re an advocate for your brand and what you stand for’ (

    The challenge for public health social marketing is to combine the insights from consumer behaviour journals with relevant lessons from commercial marketing. And to have the funds to do it.

    See also:

    Margo Saunders
    Public Health Policy Researcher

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    obstetrician north shore

    As with every other thing I think the social media has been used for good as well as bad. I believe that Social Media can be used for health campaigns, especially the Women’s Health.


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