Guest Post: How BU Student Health Services Wellness Education Uses Social Media

The following is a guest post from Michelle George of Student Health Services’ Wellness Education program. We asked her to give some insight into how she uses social tools to help promote Wellness programs (including GTK). Here’s what she had to say!

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At Student Health Services Wellness Education, we use social media quite regularly. We know that the population we serve is connected to many platforms including Facebook and Twitter. We also know from the research that most people get answers to their health questions online or from a friend versus a health educator or medical professional. While this knowledge makes it difficult to dispel myths, it is helpful to get the word out to our students in this format.

About one year ago, we created the BU Student Health Facebook page and since then, we have added close to 2,000 friends. On our Facebook page, you will find a daily status update that varies from day to day. On Wednesdays, for instance, we provide a weekly wellness tip, while on Fridays we provide a weird body fact. We also create all of our events on Facebook and invite our friends — we have found that we can get the word out about what is going much faster this way than with large, costly posters. We also use Facebook to post interesting health and wellness news clips and to create surveys for students to participate in. Since approximately 85% of college-age students are on Facebook, we think that this is a valuable resource to our office.

In addition to Facebook, we use our Wellness blog quite regularly. We always post our upcoming events, Student Health news and programs, and other health and wellness information. Because we are able to update it ourselves, it is a little more user-friendly than the general Student Health website. We typically put a new post about something important every one to two days. We have noticed that certain posts get more attention than others. For example, just before an event, many students will visit the Upcoming Events page. We also notice that students seem to be very interested in articles related to the flu, stress, and the GTK campaign.

Lastly, we have started a Twitter page. We were reluctant at first because last year around this time, students were telling us that they didn’t actually use Twitter, but they did follow other people like celebrities. It seems, however, that there has been a slight change with more students making use of Twitter. Typically, we simply link our Facebook status updates to our Twitter page to ensure that we have similar message, and also because it takes much less time. We have found that writing quick, fifteen-word health messages are noticed by our students because sometimes our messages get retweeted.

We think that using social media can help us permeate our health messages in ways that may have been difficult previously. We think that the blog and our Facebook page have gained popularity and we hope that our Twitter followers will follow the same path. Because of our use of social media for health promotion, I was asked to speak at the upcoming NECHA (New England College Health Association) conference. I am very excited about this opportunity, and to continue learning about how social media can help increase health and wellness awareness among BU students.

We hope that guest posts like Michelle’s can help other social media practitioners at BU gain some insight into how different organizations on campus are using social media to their benefit. If you’re interested in writing a guest post of your own, please contact us!

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