Health Information: Social Media’s New Darling?

13 08 2010

When it comes to health information, more and more people are turning to the Internet, and not just to research symptoms.

Increasingly, people are turning to social media for everything from weight management to smoking cessation to exercise tutorials. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of tools like Twitter, Facebook, and mobile applications for the radical behavior modification required to stop smoking, drinking, or eating too much, but the health information landscape has been irrevocably altered by the influence of social media, and vice versa.

When it comes to weightier matters such as fighting infectious disease or increasing communication between doctors and patients, the social media scene is less chock-a-block with information, but most of the heavy hitters, like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are represented.

For patients with infectious diseases or other serious conditions, there are many virtual gathering places where peer-to-peer information and experiences are shared. Sites like PatientsLikeMe allow users to self-select using “disease communities,” from Fibromyalgia to HIV/AIDS. PKIDs has a listserv for families whose children have been affected by infectious diseases.

And while it’s far too early to tell whether social media will increase doctor-patient communication, some practitioners have embraced social media tools whole-heartedly –using everything from blogs to Twitter.  A New York practice handles nearly all post-consultation communications virtually (ranging from email to Twitter).

From virtual visits to health research to virtual communities for the chronically ill, the Internet is no longer just a way to check out your symptoms. And social media, with its two-way information sharing, has shifted knowledge-sharing hierarchies the healthcare world used to take for granted.

The Mayo Clinic, the seminal leader in the treatment of disease, recently formed a Center for Social Media.

Could a social media center in your hospital or clinic be far behind?

5 Quick Tips for Nonprofit Success on Twitter

6 08 2010

Twitter, the micro-blogging social media tool of choice for over 105 million people worldwide, can seem at first blush to be a funny tool.  Users write messages in 140 characters or less, and share links and news updates with those that follow them.

Brevity has necessitated its own language on Twitter (abbreviations anyone?) and to the uninitiated it can be quite difficult to understand.

However, for those willing to press on, Twitter can be an invaluable tool to reach a wider audience, share news updates and events, and quickly create “buzz” about an issue, product, or concern.

This holds especially true for nonprofits, who can use Twitter’s virtual megaphone to communicate their health- or other mission-related messages.  However, like all tools, it’s only effective if the operator has some tricks up her sleeve.

These five quick tips for nonprofit success will help put any group on the map with Twitter:

  1. Hold a Twitter Town Hall – A Twitter Town Hall is a virtual event that allows people, during a set period of time, to talk about the same topic with other people and organizations on Twitter. To launch National HIV Testing Day CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, held a Twitter Town Hall. The Town Hall is an excellent way to build a nonprofit’s mission and vision, and an excellent promotional tool for an event or annual celebration.
  2. Involve a Key Leader – We can’t all get Ashton Kutcher or Demi Moore to tweet on our behalf, but most nonprofits have key leaders within their organization or on their board who have a knack for pithy (Twitter-friendly), mission-focused comments or questions.  Offering access to a director or board leader grants twitter users an opportunity to engage effectively with a new audience.
  3. Start an intelligent conversation (by asking good questions)  – Twitter users, like most people, get excited by the prospect of giving their opinions. Nonprofits often have time-sensitive or newsy questions that can spur debate and inspire great discussions. For example “Will you get tested on National HIV Testing Day? Why or why not?”
  4. Utilize favorites to organize your tweets and give users a quick way to see what your organization is about. Favoriting is a way of showcasing the tweets that you find most interesting or helpful. You can favorite your own or another’s tweet by selecting the star at the end of a particular update. These favorites will show in the right-hand column of your Twitter profile page.
  5. Create a poll  – A more targeted way to prompt conversation amongst your twitter users is to post a poll relating to your work.  Polls allow an organization to ask multi-layered series of questions and gain in-depth information. Sites like twtpoll and polldaddy allow you to design and then tweet a poll. These are particularly useful for multiple choice questions. For example, “Would you prefer to receive your health information via:  a. Text, b. Mobile App, or c. Email?”

As with all social media tools, a regular presence, high quality discussion, and contributing to others streams of information will help build a loyal following.

And don’t forget to follow PKIDs on Twitter.

Join the conversation!

5 Quick Tips for Nonprofit Facebook Success

23 06 2010

Social media (user- generated and interactive web content such as Facebook and Twitter), works incredibly well for companies like Starbucks and Coca-Cola, but did you know it can be powerful for nonprofits?

When it comes to communicating messages widely and effectively, Facebook has the potential to benefit most nonprofit groups regardless of size or budgets. And in terms of reach (number of people who use it), Facebook recently surpassed Google. This dominance is good news for organizations that learn to use it effectively.

If your nonprofit wants to broadcast information to a widening group of people, Facebook is the tool for you.  Like all social media tools, your success is linked to your ability to utilize it efficiently and effectively.

Once you’ve set up your Facebook page,  these 5 quick tips will help insure your success:

1. Build your fan base. Inviting your existing Facebook and email contacts to Like your page is time well spent.  It’s also effective to search out and “Like” other pages on Facebook that relate to your work, as you’ll often attract their audience to your page. Once you get your page “fans” to 20-30, you’ll be on your way. You should also participate in other page communities by leaving comments and notes regarding their links and news. If you want fans, you need to be a fan.  (Although the term “fans” is no longer prominent on Facebook, it indicates the frequenters of your page.)

2. Communicate with your fans. Fans are members of your page and have joined because they’re interested in what you’re saying and doing. Your Facebook page allows you to email your fans directly about timely matters such as upcoming events, celebrations, or contests (see point #3). The key to successful fan communication is to not spam people. Once a month is about right, unless there is something pressing or timely such as a call to action or an event.

3. Hold a Contest. Page contests allow you to inject some fun into your Facebook community and increase participation in and enthusiasm for your work. Some popular ideas include caption contests, guess the story behind the picture, or name our [fill in the blank] (fundraiser, new office space, new employee title). Contests can be fun, and are a great way to boost your page fan base.

4. Update page daily with news, links, and shares.  By updating your page with organizational news and views from around the web, you’ll help your fans stay plugged into your mission and message.

5. Put a Facebook badge on your website. Facebook makes it easy to create a badge promoting your Facebook page, which you can add onto an existing web page. If you take the time to create one and ask your fans to place it on their site as well, you’ll soon see a jump in your fan base. Don’t forget to put one on your blog!

For a nonprofit, sharing your mission through page communications will strengthen your work in the long run.  For more nonprofit-related tips on using social media, check out PKIDs’ Communications Made Easy program.


PKIDs Has a Job Opportunity or Two

4 05 2010

PKIDs is doing exciting work and would like to invite one or two individuals to join us in these forward-moving times.

We’re seeking creative people afflicted with perpetual curiosity to work in a fast-paced, collaborative environment.

We’ll hire one person if there’s someone out there with all of these skill sets, or we’ll hire two people and divide up the duties, it just depends on who’s the right fit for which tasks.

The ideal candidates are energetic, expert multi-taskers and the two focuses are:

Social media and technical expertise:

This individual will be a software and social media enthusiast who loves to problem-solve design and setup challenges.  The right person will have experience and expertise in the following:

  • Dreamweaver
  • Microsoft products
  • Adobe products
  • Some graphic design/layout
  • Usage and in-depth understanding of social media tools

Communications expertise:

This individual will have writing, research, and editorial acumen with an ability to craft messages for various social and traditional communications outlets, and have expert presentation and public speaking skills. The right person will participate in all programs – leading in some and assisting with others.


  • 5+ years experience in the areas outlined above
  • Exceptional communication and organizational skills
  • Strategic thinker, excellent writer, creative marketer
  • Proven track record in online community/social media
  • Strong project management and interpersonal skills
  • Health and medical knowledge a plus
  • Bachelor’s degree

All PKIDs’ employees work from home offices and one must be comfortable and productive in that environment.

Please visit our website to find out more about us and feel free to email any questions you may have.

Please send your resume, salary requirements, links to online work, writing samples, and anything else you would like us to see to


Communication: Looking Forward

11 01 2010

The last decade transformed our world.  Facebook, MySpace, blogs, Twitter, Web 2.0, social media—these tools and concepts turned communications on its head.

social media landscape


If we choose, we can each be part of a constantly connected culture, keeping up with friends, family, and colleagues in real time via text, audio or video over the Internet.  Or, we can slow it down and leave messages, photos and videos for others to find at their leisure.

This new-found ability to reach a broad audience with one’s message is exciting and potentially risky.  If you make a mistake and post an update that’s not accurate or simply not what you wanted to say, it’s almost impossible to take it back.  Even if you remove it from your social media site, someone somewhere likely has a copy of the original web page or post.

Consequently, there’s more chaff than wheat out there, and they’re sometimes hard to separate.

Not only has the way we communicate radically changed in a few short years, but the technologies are continuously evolving. Facebook revamps itself, Twitter adds features and removes others, Skype improves, and other social media tools just disappear.

In a year, who knows what these sites will look like, and what new sites may come along to enhance the community?

Remember the big dotcom bust in the 1990s? Companies are smarter this time around. Free and fun are in, but money must be made at the end of the day. Sites explode in popularity, and then fall off the screen as a newer, better model comes along. Nothing is permanent.

Whether you’re a seasoned social media user or just learning the terms and tools you’ve heard others talking about, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the plethora of choices.

While site features and tools are important to learn about, it needn’t be the goal of your social media plan to use every newfangled feature that Facebook or Twitter comes up with, but rather that you choose and use the basic tools that help you accomplish your goals.

It’s about relationships. Are you talking to your supporters? Are they talking back? Are you finding new allies?

It’s OK to take your time and figure out what will enhance your work versus jumping on the latest thing and finding that it’s “all show and no go.”

At PKIDs, we enjoy using social media to communicate with people interested in our causes and goals, and we want to help others leverage social media to their advantage.

What are you looking forward to accomplishing with social media in 2010?


Finding Health Info on YouTube

29 06 2009

YouTube is a vast library of online videos.  There truly is something there for everyone.

This amount of content makes narrowing a search challenging, but doable.  It is possible to find quality health-related videos on YouTube.


Creating An Account
Go to and create an account by clicking the Sign Up link on the top right.

As you’re filling in the blanks on the sign-up page, notice the little box that says, “Let others find my channel on YouTube if they have my email address.”

Channels are people’s accounts. Think of YouTube as a giant TV and everyone signed up, including you, is hosting his/her own channel. Yikes! Very crowded, but there are gems in the crowd.

Once done with the sign-up page, you’ll go to another page where you’ll type in your email and password.  At the end of this process, YouTube sends you an email asking you to confirm your account.  Follow the email instructions and you’ll soon be on your very own YouTube account page.  When you get there, look in the upper right corner of that page.  If your user name is there, you’re signed in and ready to go.

Your Page
Take a look at your personalized home page. The first option you have is Add/Remove Modules.  Click on that to go to Account Settings, where you pick and choose what you want to see on your home page (e.g. add/remove subscriptions, recommendations, friend activity, ect.).

Subscriptions is next (videos from channels to which you’re subscribed), then Recommendations (videos recommended by YouTube that you may like), followed by Friend Activity (videos your friends have uploaded), Featured Videos (videos that are featured on YouTube), and Videos Being Watched Now (which is self-explanatory).

Searching YouTube
Finding health channels to subscribe to is easy―just type a keyword (e.g HIV/AIDS, pertussis, H1N1, etc.) into the search box.

The search brings you results from Channels (other users’ accounts) and Playlists (a user-maintained list of videos).

Browse the channels and playlists and when you find something you like, click the gold Subscribe button on that page.


Subscribing allows you to get up-to-date videos from the channels or playlists you select and feeds those videos to your home page.

When looking for a range of information providers to subscribe to, sorting by Playlist can be beneficial, as playlists may be made up of videos created by that particular user, or videos the user likes that are created by others, or a combination.

YouTube - health search

You can also click on the Community tab (see above) and browse videos by categories, shows, movies, channels, contests and events.

Once you’ve identified a health information source and determined its credibility, click subscribe.

The new videos from that user’s channel or playlist will then show up on your YouTube home page under subscription.

It is that easy, so jump in and don’t forget to find some funny vids to get you through the day.

Visit PKIDs and GETVAXED on YouTube, subscribe to our channels and check out our favorites.


Facebook: Are We a Page Yet?

27 05 2009

Facebook (FB) is a good place to network with friends or keep up with your favorite causes or orgs.  It’s also good at causing confusion.

On FB, there are Pages, Profiles, Groups and Applications – and there’s Home.  Well, there’s a lot of other stuff, but we have to start somewhere.

Here are a few tips, but you’ll get the most out of FB by clicking on things and trying them out.


The Profile is your starting point. Before you can do anything else on FB, you need to have a profile.  After you sign up on FB, you fill in the profile info.

You can then adjust how open, or how private, you want your FB profile to be.

You’ll find that the Profile page and the Pages page(s) look very similar. That’s because they are, but they’re not.  It’s painful, isn’t it!

Just remember that the Profile page is where all your power is, and you’ll be good.


The Home page is like your hometown newspaper, if your newspaper only printed news about you and your friends.

Every morning, or five times an hour, depending on your level of addiction to FB, you get on FB and you look at your Home page.  You’ll see news that your friends have posted and you can post what you’re up to in the “What’s On Your Mind” share box at the top of the Home and Profile pages.

Anytime you post anything in that share box, it goes to all your friends.  If you want to communicate directly with one or more friends, and not blast something to all your friends on FB, go to “Inbox” at the top of any of your pages on FB and click on it.

Start typing in your friend’s name as it appears on FB and their name will pop up, you then click on it and type in your message and hit send.


Pages are a way of sharing your hobbies or interests, or promoting a business, organization or celebrity.

FB users can see your Page(s) and “fan” the page to show their support.  They don’t have to be friends of your FB account to see your Pages.

A Page looks similar to the Profile, and you have many of the same options for tweaking it, because it also has the Wall, Info, Photos and other tabs (see the PKIDs’ GETVAXED page below).


Pages allow information, pics and videos to be constantly streaming (much like Profiles).  This gives the FB Page an opportunity to be a main source of information for fans (a.k.a. page users).

For someone using FB to network as an org, one of the best parts of a Page is the analytics available to measure traffic and growth. Through these metrics, you can track your Page’s progress and set goals for success.


Groups were the first big thing on Facebook. Anyone could make one to show support for their passion (see the PKIDs’ FB Group below).

PKIDs Facebook Profile

Compared to Pages and Profiles, Groups are more of a static source of information. You can “join” a Group just as you would “fan” a Page, but the Page and the Profile are the champions of providing quick information updates. You could almost look at a Group as a business listing in the phone book.


Applications, or Apps, can be integrated into the Profile or Page as tabs and boxes (under the Boxes tab or as a box on the Wall tab). This allows a Page or Profile to be much more interactive (and fun!).

FB apps are developed by companies and individual developers, not always by FB employees.

There are thousands of FB apps and the complete application directory can be found here.


You can search for Groups, Pages, Profiles and Applications by using the search box in the top right corner (shown below).

Facebook Search

Have further questions about FB? Ask them by commenting below. And look forward to next week where we go in-depth about finding and sharing health info on Facebook.