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Harnessing Technology for Environmental Health Outreach & Engagement

Lab Gone Viral

April 12th, 2012

The Gibson Assembly Song! I wish more graduate students would do something like this. Singing and performing has got to help with stress in the lab. More information

The video was just made for fun, and took less than a week to put together (not counting the time to write the words!). Filming was done mostly over one day, using one camera and a slightly broken tripod, just using spaces in the lab and the gel room. The green-screen sections were done by throwing a green table cloth over some poster display boards. The music was recorded seperately, and I think each instrument was recorded seperately as well, to get the sound balance right. It was all carried out by about nine undergraduates (and one lab rat!) and massively confused most of the supervisors.

“Mobile is the Needle, Social is the Thread”

April 1st, 2012
An interesting presentation…
















From  Beth’s Blog, a really great resource (not just useful for nonprofits).

Best Practices

  • A mobile-friendly web site or mobile landing pages.
  • Inbound links must work from mobile devices!
  • At least a mobile theme on your site, but responsive design is better. Many feature phones also are web-enabled, so mobile web can broaden your audience.
  • Don’t start with apps, and only build them if you have a REALLY GOOD REASON – for example the Planned Parenthood campaign
  • Infrastructure requirements are database and cms – make sure they work with your mobile platform
  • Need an organizational culture open to failure and trying new things
  • Requires strategy
  • Build lists and collect cell phone numbers
  • If leadership isn’t comfortable with mobile, teach them to use their phones
  • Start with small experiments, low risk

The future ….

  • The very near future is mobile content, not apps. what does your email, your website, your donation form look like on a phone? For most it looks pretty terrible.
  • Don’t forget about the devices most people are actually using.  At any given time, including the future, the low end of mobile will always be the biggest part of the market. You can do a lot of cool stuff with whatever the current low end of mobile is.
  • Goodwill’s GoodProspects SMS to bridge digital divide – there is power in SMS

A Social Media Strategy

March 16th, 2012

I had a great time facilitating sessions on web and emerging technology for fellow grantees at the NIEHS Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) meeting in Bethesda last week.

The big hurdle when it comes to social media is getting center investigators and staff on board and committed.
We need to be thinking differently about how we create and disseminate materials on-line for various community audiences.

I think CDC did a great job in sharing what they have learned in the CDC Health Communicators’ Social Media Toolkit (pdf)

Here is a summary:

CDC’s Top Lessons Learned from Using Social Media

1. Make Strategic Choices and Understand the Level of Effort
Be strategic and follow demographic and user data to make choices based on audience, communications objectives and key messages. Be sure to assess the level of effort needed to maintain these channels such as time and commitment. Often, the resources needed to start and maintain social media projects are different than traditional communication efforts.

2. Go Where the People Are
Social media can help reach people where they are—millions of people use social media and spend a lot of time in these spaces learning, sharing and interacting. The popularity of key social media sites can be assessed by reviewing user statistics and demographics. Additionally, there are several niche social networking sites that target specific groups, like moms, physicians, or racial and ethnic groups; or sites that focus on a particular topic like travel or health.

3. Adopt Low-Risk Tools First
If you are starting out and finding resistance to using social media among your communication team or stakeholders, it may be helpful to first adopt low-risk solutions and later build on your successes. Products such as podcasts, videos and widgets are easily downloadable, and can be accessed from partner sites and posted on your website.

4. Make Sure Messages Are Science-based
As with any effective health communication, messages developed for dissemination through social media channels should be accurate, consistent and science-based.

5. Create Portable Content
Develop portable content—such as mobile applications, widgets and online videos—that can easily extend reach beyond your website to provide credible, timely, and accurate content for partners and others who want to help spread your health messages.

6. Facilitate Viral Information Sharing
Make it easy for people to share your messages and become health advocates. This can be accomplished by using social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube that encourage sharing among users, or you can use tools with sharing features, such as widgets or eCards.

7. Encourage Participation
Social media allows for the tailoring of messages to help express empathy and acknowledge concern, promote action and listen to what people are saying about health-related topics in your community. Two-way conversations can foster meaningful communication with your audience that can help to facilitate relationships, sharing and interaction.

8. Leverage Networks
Social media allows people to easily establish and access networks on a regular basis. For example, Facebook reports the average Facebook user has 130 friends, or a network of 130 people with whom they can easily share information. The average user creates 90 pieces of content each month (Facebook 2011). By strategically leveraging these established networks, you can facilitate information sharing, and in turn, expand the reach of your health message.

9. Provide Multiple Formats
Providing messages in multiple formats increases accessibility, reinforces messages and gives people different ways to interact with your content based on their level of engagement and access to media.

10. Consider Mobile Technologies
More than ninety percent of adults in America subscribe to mobile services. Mobile technology is personal, portable and affordable. It allows the sharing of health information through text messaging, mobile websites and mobile applications.

11. Set Realistic Goals
Social media can raise awareness, increase a user’s knowledge of an issue, change attitudes and prompt behavior change in dynamic, personalized and participatory ways. However, like traditional communication, social media alone may not be able to meet all of your communication goals or address all of the target audiences’ needs. Set your goals accordingly.

12. Learn from Metrics and Evaluate Your Efforts
Digital communications offer many metrics that you can use to focus and improve your communications efforts. Metrics can help you to report usage, monitor trends and gauge the success of specific promotions or outreach efforts. Beyond simple metrics, social media efforts can also be evaluated by measuring the use of information, level of engagement with your content, and health impact. Monitoring trends and discussions on social media networks can also be a valuable way to better understand current interests, knowledge levels and potential misunderstandings or myths about your health topic. Social media provides a direct feedback loop with your audience. By analyzing the feedback available through your social media tools, you can adjust your social media strategy, reshape messages, improve processes or shift tactics.

Developing a Social Media Strategy

A social media communication strategy is only one part of a larger communication effort, and should be integrated into your overall communication planning, activities and data collection. Therefore, over-arching communication goals should be considered when developing social media activities.

The keys to effective social media outreach are identifying target audience(s), determining objective(s), knowing outlet(s) and deciding on the amount of resources (time and effort) that can be invested. However, with social media, more information can be obtained through a particular media channel to help build your strategy. For example, you can listen to conversations in real time, and identify influencers and fans. You can better understand audience needs in specific social media spaces and engage users in new ways.

Having clear communication objectives will help build your strategy. Likewise, understanding your audience(s) will help you determine the channel selection and how you use specific channels. People access information in different ways, at different times, and for different reasons. Each channel is different and has differing engagement, content, and community norms. Understanding the way people naturally use or participate in social media channels is also very helpful in determining your strategy.

Pew Internet and American Life Project

ScienceOnline 2012

March 1st, 2012

Really enjoyed the agenda and tweets from Science Online 2012. I’ve made it my mission to attend next year!

Enhancing Education for Grad Students

February 29th, 2012

Happy Leap Day!!

I had an enjoyable evening last week, presenting to MPH students in the Social Marketing course.  I shared about the importance of writing and utilizing social media in health promotion, discussed some cool project examples, and strategy advice from CDC that I thought was helpful.  View the slides below.

Feel Good Friday

February 17th, 2012

Let’s just say I listen to this video often! Community engagement work is heightened by our own ability to connect authentically with our audiences.

Public Health 2.0

February 17th, 2012

Incorporating social media effectively in public health communication is critical. This presentation is well designed in stages, just like a course could be for students.

Go Global

December 6th, 2010

Within our NIEHS outreach and engagement community we are committed to healthy homes in the U.S. Wouldn’t it be great to go global!

Efficient safe stoves are good for the environment, economy, and the health and safety of families in third-world countries.

I will be going to a noon-time talk this Wednesday to hear about Aprovecho Research http://www.aprovecho.org/lab/index.php

Learning from Adversity

December 6th, 2010

ASCD has some new video clips in preparation for the 2011 Annual Conference. One hit home. When trying to get faculty and personnel to adopt new ways of doing things, it is easy to get defensive and take things personally, because it can get so frustrating. It is important to not take lack of interest personally and let egos take control. Just continue to share what is possible.

Video: Heidi Hays Jacobs on Learning From Adversity

Heidi Hayes Jacobs edited a book called, Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. The way it ends to describe changes in the classroom also hits home for how we can make those changes.

  • We need to move from knowing the right answers to knowing how to behave when the answers are not readily apparent;
  • We need to shift from transmitting meaning to students to finding ways for student to construct meaning;
  • We need to move away from just external evaluations (by the teacher, of student work) to more self-assessment, which breeds improvement.

Time to Embrace Health 2.0

December 2nd, 2010

Authenticity is key to connecting with people around their health.

Utilizing technology to create behavior change takes an entrepreneurial spirit, passion to make a difference, and a holistic view of health.

A possible explanation for the reason that Health has generated its own “2.0” term are its applications across health care in general, and in particular it potential in public health promotion. One author describes the potential as “limitless”. (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_2.0)

The Health 2.0 Conference is the leading showcase of cutting-edge technologies in health care, including Online Communities, Search and lightweight Tools for consumers to manage their health and connect to providers online. Above all, Health 2.0 remains a venue where innovation in technology is introduced and ground-breaking ideas are shared to drive change in the health care system.

Articles and videos from this conference are quite thought-provoking for our outreach and engagement coming out of academia.

See What’s the point of Health 2.0? for a video and article coming from this conference.  A final quote from the video:
“Use Technology to Expand the Human Element”

In 2007, I presented and wrote about PatientsLikeMe.com, a site that allows patients to share and help one another. I knew this idea was valuable to patients!

In the time since launch (2005), the company has expanded to 9 disease categories, with plans to expand to many more. The company was named as one of the “15 Companies that Will Change the World” by Business 2.0 and CNN Money.[2] It was also featured in a March, 2008 New York Time Magazine article entitled “Practicing Patients”[3] and in December 2008 on a television segment with Sanjay Gupta for the CBS Evening News.[4]

Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PatientsLikeMe