Social media are online communication channels or platforms that allow you to share content and open it up to comment and input from the social community. There are many platforms that are used by millions of people across the world, who often access them directly through their smartphone, so you can potentially reach a lot of people through social media. Some of the most popular channels are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, WeChat in China, LINE in Japan and Korea, WhatsApp, and through telegram. Think about the messages you want to share and the audiences you want to share it with to thoughtfully choose your social media channel.
How to work with social media
Getting started with social media
Many groups feel they lack the time to dedicate to their social media communications. Here are 5 easy hacks for a time-crunched team looking to engage and share on social media.
Create a social media plan that describes your aims, target audience, the content you want to share and in which language. Select a social media platform depending on what may be most commonly used by your target audience in your region and language. This is a useful summary of social media and healthcare professionals providing an overview of different social media sites in the Western world and a useful glossary of social media terms used.
If you have findings from your Cochrane Review that you would like to share via social media, but do not have your own social media accounts, we can share it on the Cochrane main accounts. To do this, contact Muriah Umoquit (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Creating a new social media account: Each Cochrane group is allowed one account per platform (i.e. Satellites and Affiliates should jointly use the main account, not have their own account). If your Cochrane Group would like to set up a social media account, please contact Cochrane Support at email@example.com. We can assist you in selecting your handle/name, profile picture, and provide the proper branding of your top banner.
Use hashtags. Hashtags are a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic. It’s an excellent way to reach a new audience looking for specific information on Twitter and Instagram. We developed a handy cheat sheet of the most common Cochrane-Specific hashtags to use when you create your next post. You can also look up specific healthcare hashtags in the Symplur index.
Be visual. You can increase the engagement of your post on social media if you choose a related image to accompany it. This should be standard practice across all Cochrane accounts. Check out our comprehensive guide on Choosing Images for Sharing Evidence. This site provides more information about accessing the free photos that Cochrane offers. Our small-scale study suggested that using social media to share a blogshot almost doubles the attention that you get over a text-only tweet. Sharing a related picture with text in a tweet on average triples the click-throughs and likes, and doubles retweets.
- Think about using “awareness days” to amplify your message. Awareness days, weeks and months are periods usually set by an organisation or government to commemorate a public health or ethical cause of importance on a national or international level. There are some questions in this 1-page resource that you can use when deciding whether to support a particular awareness day. These questions came from a report on awareness days, which is available here.
Top tip! No matter which social media channel you use to share the findings from your Cochrane Review, you’ll want to use the Dissemination Checklist to make sure you are sharing the correct information, the correct way.
Facebook is a great way to connect with a specific audience. Before creating a Facebook group or page, you should decide which audience you want to reach and if creating a Facebook group or page is the best way to accomplish this.
Building a Facebook following can be a long process so you may decide to direct people to the established Cochrane Community Facebook group for organizational news and to the Cochrane Library Facebook group for evidence news.
- There are important elements that can help make a Facebook post go from just okay to amazing! This document on 'Using Facebook Effectively' provides information about: posting and content, using images, comments and discussions and gaining a following.
Research published in the BMJ suggests that tweeting out links to Cochrane reviews increases ‘product placement’ of evidence, which has the potential to then influence care. It’s not surprising that Twitter is Cochrane’s most used social media platform.
- Twitter chats (or Tweetchats) are public conversations that are organized around one unique hashtag. The hashtag allows you to follow and participate in the discussion. These can be reoccurring or one-offs on a specific topic. To get started on planning your own, review the content of a past Twitter Chat on a specific review and register your Twitter chat.
Instagram is a free photo and video sharing app available on most mobile phones. People can upload photos or videos and share them with their followers. People can also view, comment and like posts shared by the people they follow on Instagram.
If you are interested in using or improving use of Instagram, Cochrane has produced an information sheet to help which covers:
- The benefits and challenges of using Instagram
- Guidance for setting up an Instagram account for your Cochrane Group
- Tips for selecting content to share and for getting started
Managing multiple social media accounts
If you are managing multiple social media accounts, there are tools to help you:
This blog provides a review of tools to manage multiple accounts as well what they consider to be the six best social media management strategies.
Tweetdeck allows you to manage multiple Twitter accounts, schedule Tweets for posting in the future and build Tweet collections.
Buffer allows you to manage many of your social media accounts from one place including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. The tool allows you to schedule posts and analyse performance. This video will help you set up and use Buffer.
- Hootsuite is another platform which allows you to post in multiple channels, schedule posts and provide analytics of performance.
Top Tip! Cochrane UK recommends using Tweetdeck in conjunction with Buffer to manage your social media channels.
Evaluating the effect of social media
You can evaluate the effects of your social media activity by looking at followers, conversations, views, likes and retweets. Find out about how to evaluate Facebook specific analytics in this document 'Evaluating your Facebook Group'. Much of the information in this document is applicable to other social media platforms.
Examples of using social media from Cochrane groups
- Cochrane France
- Cochrane Russia
- Cochrane Iran
- Cochrane UK
- Cochrane Rehabilitation
- Cochrane Common Mental Disorders
- Cochrane Nordic
- Cochrane Nigeria
- Cochrane New Zealand
- Cochrane Back & Neck
- Cochrane Anaesthesia & Emergency and Critical Care
- This resource (look at page 24 onwards) from the World Health Organization shares simple and pragmatic tips for posting content using each social media platform.
- Cochrane Pain, Palliative and Supportive Care blog about how they schedule their social media for the week in 10 minutes per day.
- Cochrane UK blogged about their experience of using social media to disseminate a Cochrane Review.
- The simplified Chinese translation team talk about their experiences of using WeChat, a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app in this Cochrane Community news item.
- Cochrane Child Health present their experiences of a social media campaign in this blog and journal article.