Here at CFHS we like to reach out to you in different ways. We have a hard copy newsletter for those of you who like to share or read on the train. Our e-bulletin suits those who like the convenience of news delivered straight to their inbox. Our website holds a wealth of information for those who have the time to sit down and enjoy a browsing session, or have a specific task in mind. And we like to hold events to bring you together, to engage in conversation, and to share your knowledge and experience face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder.
Like many other organisations, in recent years we have also ventured into social media, with a facebook and twitter account. It’s probably no surprise that, as elsewhere, in our small team opinion is divided on the use of social media. We have our prolific twitter enthusiast and our self-confessed luddite, and the rest of us inbetween.
Those on the pro side can see the benefits of social media for us as an organisation: it’s a great way to find or share news and connect with others instantly, and to extend our reach. It doesn’t cost anything. The other side complain that it’s too time-consuming, and all a bit distracting and well, pointless.
“Before facebook all this stuff just stayed in people’s heads.”
And there’s me in the middle-top, seeing the benefits, and actively participating, but meeting the same issues as with my personal account, with random things appearing in the newsfeed, and somewhat obsessed by checking for likes and follows and retweets (our prolific twitter enthusiast always does better than me) and being distracted by funny cats and dogs.
A lot of the community groups that we are working with (particularly community cafes) are active on social media. Again, the benefits being that it is cheap and quick and also a great way to connect with young people.
One of these groups is our long-time allies and colleagues at Tullibody Healthy Living Centre and Community Garden, who told us about their experience using facebook …
“Social media is a great way to reach out to more people, especially young people, and make new contacts. However, this is an activity that needs a keen photographer and blogger if it’s going to be successful and make people want to look at your posts. Although we use social media as a tool to inspire and mobilize people, we also recognise that communities thrive through the social interactions people have with each other. The greatest tool we have is word of mouth.”
For a personal point of view, we also asked Wendy Wills (previously a member of the CFHS steering group) and Prof of Food and Public Health, who uses twitter to post her own views on food, public health, health care, and research and academic life.
“I find social media (Twitter) useful because of the immediate nature of the engagement with my followers. There’s no ‘slow build’ – either a tweet engages people’s interest or it doesn’t. I like to see who is retweeting my posts and what type of post gains most interest. Stating an opinion on something topical generally gets the most retweets, simply retweeting a link does not engage people in the same way as posting ‘govt must help retailers reformulate food products to curb obesity’ with a link to a news article. Twitter feels like a tight-knit community but only because I am careful about who I follow and what I tweet.”
We would be really interested to hear about your experiences of using social media. Drop an email to nhs.healthscotland-CFHS@nhs.net and let us know about what your social media accounts are good for.