Cdc Social Media Tools Guidelines and Best Practices

The CDC Social Media Tools Guideline and Best Practices (CDC Toolkit) is a collection of tools and resources to help public health workers effectively employ social media to improve public health outcomes in their local communities. This toolkit is designed for use by public health officials and professionals working within public health departments, in areas such as: proactive communication, epidemiology, environmental and occupational health, and preparedness and response.

The Cdc Social Media Tools Guidelines and Best Practices provides Federal staff with a set of tools and a process for creating a social media policy within CDC, including a workable method for going live with your social media policy. For details, click on the ‘What’s New’ tab to the left.

Social media tools have become an effective way to expand reach, foster engagement and increase access to credible, science-based health messages. (A second edition of the tool is now available. ) Over the last several years, the use of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media tools to disseminate health messages has grown significantly. This toolkit, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers resources for practitioners wanting to use social media in their work.

Using social media in health communication campaigns and activities encourages participation and public engagement. There are three key attributes of social media that make them highly effective as health communication tools:

  • Personalization – content tailored to individual needs
  • Presentation – timely and relevant content accessible in multiple formats and contexts
  • Participation – partners and the public contribute content in meaningful ways

The CDC’s social media team developed this toolkit by collecting lessons learned over a four year period. The goal is to help others develop strong social media at their organizations.

CDC’s Top Lessons Learned from Using Social Media

  1. Make strategic choices and understand the level of effort.
  2. Go where the people are.
  3. Adopt low-risk tools first.
  4. Make sure messages are science-based.
  5. Create portable content.
  6. Facilitate viral information sharing.
  7. Encourage participation.
  8. Leverage networks.
  9. Provide multiple formats.
  10. Consider mobile phones.
  11. Set realistic goals.
  12. Learn from metrics and evaluate your efforts.

This toolkit is divided into the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Social Media Tools
    • buttons and badges
    • image sharing
    • content syndication
    • RSS feeds
    • podcasts
    • online video sharing
    • widgets
    • eCards
    • electronic games
    • mobile health
    • micro-blogs
    • blogs
    • social networking sites
    • virtual worlds
  3. Social Media Campaign Example: 2009-2010 H1N1 and Seasonal Flu Outbreak Campaign
  4. More Social Media Resources
  5. Social Media Communications Strategy Worksheet
  6. Social Media Evaluation Worksheet

Steps for Using Method/Tool

Using Social Media in Public Health: 2009-2010 H1NI and Seasonal Flu Outbreak Social Media Campaign

The CDC uses their 2009-2010 H1N1 and Seasonal Flu Outbreak Social Media Campaign as an example. By using multiple formats to disseminate messages, users had the option to participate based on their knowledge, level of access and engagement with social media. These tools included:

1. Buttons and badges were created for partners to post on their websites to inform visitors of the steps to take to stop the spread of H1N1 and seasonal flu.

2. Widgets, small portable applications, were created for users to add to blogs, social networking profiles or web pages to share H1N1 and seasonal flu information. A total of 11 flu-related widgets provided interactive resources on prevention, school guidance, seasonal flu updates, an interactive quiz and the FluView National Activity Map. CDC flu widgets were viewed more than 5 million times.

3. Online video sharing sites, such as YouTube, allow users to upload, view, share and comment on posted videos. CDC’s YouTube channel, CDCStreamingHealth, provided 32 videos covering H1N1 topics, which were viewed 3.13 million times. The most popular video, “Symptoms of H1N1 (Swine Flu),” was viewed more than 2 million times and ranked in the top two videos across YouTube in the news and science category.

4. H1N1 podcasts 
(both audio and video) were produced and available from the website and through the iTunes store. H1N1-related podcasts were viewed a total of 2.67 million times.

5. eCards, or electronic greeting cards, were developed for users to send flu-related health messages to friends, family and co-workers. eCards related to H1N1 and seasonal flu have been sent more than 22,000 times and viewed 103,000 times in total.

6. CDC text messaging campaign provided three health messages a week to more than 16,000 subscribers on important CDC information about H1N1 flu, seasonal flu and other health-related topics.

7. Virtual worlds are online environments where users can create a virtual persona (avatar) that can interact with other avatars in an online virtual environment. CDC partnered with Whyville, an educational virtual world for tweens ages 8-12 years old. The Whyville campaign featured virtual flu viruses and virtual vaccinations. At the end of the activity 14,749 Whyville citizens were vaccinated for the “WhyFlu” strain and 12,369 were vaccinated for the “WhyMe Flu” strain.

8. Twitter enabled CDC to provide real-time updates during the outbreak response. The CDCFlu and CDCemergency and CDCeHealth Twitter accounts used to share H1N1 information grew to a following of 1.28 million users.

9. Focus on Flu blog was a joint partnership between CDC and WebMD. CDC subject matter experts served as guest bloggers to provide information on H1N1 vaccine safety, guidance for schools and child care programs and vaccine recommendations for older adults.

10. Content syndication was used by the CDC to make H1N1 and seasonal flu information available for partners to display on their own websites. Content syndication provided a streamlined process for disseminating credible and automatically updated flu content in real-time.

11. Facebook was one social networking site that CDC used to reach a younger audience than The CDC Facebook page was used to share H1N1 and seasonal flu updates, provide social media tools, such as badges and widgets, for users to download and share, link to for additional information, post blogs from CDC subject matter experts and promote the CDC text messaging campaign.

The 4 Best Practices for Healthcare Social Media Marketing in 2020

Based on the report, here are the 4 best practices of healthcare social media marketing that will help you set your strategy in the right direction this upcoming year.

Diversify Your Channel Mix Beyond Facebook and Twitter

Our research found that hospitals post on Instagram less than once every two days, but publish to Twitter and Facebook at least twice per day on each channel. Based on posting frequency, Instagram and YouTube are as secondary channels, despite these audiences being more engaged.

In addition, thirty of the hospitals reviewed have Pinterest accounts — but only half of those pinned anything in the first three months of 2019. Northwestern Medicine and Norton Healthcare are the two hospitals actively using Pinterest to promote content from their websites.Hospital Social Post Frequency

Social Media Channel Breakdown for Hospitals: By Network and Engagement

Vary Your Content Mix to Optimize Audience Actions

More than half of the best-performing posts included photos of people. Twenty-seven of the best 50 posts clearly showed the faces of people or babies. The number of people in photos does not appear to impact engagement — 18 images had a single person, and 18 images had 2 or more people.

In addition, curated content links have higher engagement: 35% of links shared by hospitals are curated, meaning they are not from the hospital’s own domain. Posts with curated links earned an average of 0.033% engagement per post, while links originating from the hospital’s own domain generated half as much engagement, at 0.015%.

Boost Top Performing Posts Organic Posts

While engagement is trending down across social media as a whole, brands are circumventing declining organic reach by spending money to ensure their content is getting seen. In fact, 5.5% of all hospital Facebook posts we analyzed are signaled as “likely-boosted”, according to Rival IQ. Of those likely-boosted Facebook posts, the engagement rate per post was 177% higher than the non-boosted posts.

Connect with Niche Communities

While Facebook Brand Pages continue to be used by patients and hospitals, some hospitals are beginning to leverage Facebook Groups and Messenger to create deeper connections with audiences. 

In fact, 30% of the top U.S. hospitals are making Groups part of their Facebook strategy. Twelve of the 54 hospitals (22%) are currently or have recently used Groups as part of their Facebook outreach. Four hospitals are in the pre-launch or initial-launch phase of deploying Groups. 


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides this collection of social media tools, guidelines, and best practices to help public health departments leverage the power of social media to accomplish their goals. The CDC offers examples of communities that successfully use social media to improve public health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.