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Public Health Agency of Canada
Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Social Media Strategy and Implementation

Public health is in the middle of a paradigm shift.

SARS, Asian Bird Flu, H1N1 and other global pandemics are spreading more rapidly than at any time in human history because of globalization and travel.   The effects of these diseases have been severe and the public is growing increasingly concerned about their health and safety.

From these and other disease outbreak experiences, governments have learned that they need to change the way they respond to these new health threats.

Their clinical responses need to be more coordinated, flexible and scalable.  However, just as important, governments need to communicate in new and innovative ways to inform their publics and enable people to make informed choices about protecting their health.

PHAC Info SmallSocial media provides agencies with powerful new ways of leveraging social networks to spread health information to members of the public and other stakeholders.  Tools like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Blogger can help forward-looking governments to proactively take critical health advice to “where people are” on social media rather than leaving people to find information on their own – often from inaccurate or unreliable sources.

That’s why the Public Health Agency of Canada decided to work with Ascentum to design and build a strategic social media presence.

The results have been nothing short of powerful.  In a matter of weeks, 1000s of Canadians become “fans” of the Agency on Facebook, receiving real-time updates on H1N1 when they most needed it.  Others have used the Agency’s innovative H1N1 Information Centre to share personalized information on the virus.  And, the Agency has recently launched the first branded YouTube channel of any government organization in Canada.

We’re proud of the Public Health Agency of Canada for their passion for using social media and are proud of what our partnership with them has been able to achieve.  By having personalized health advice shared through their social networks, Canadians are able to make more informed decisions to protect their health.

Keep reading to learn more about Ascentum’s social media services for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Social Media Strategy

Ascentum worked with the Public Health Agency of Canada to create its first social media strategy.  In fact, this was one of the first social media strategies developed by any Government of Canada organization.

It’s easy to start using social media; it’s harder, but more important, to design an appropriate strategy for how your organization wants to use social media.  Ascentum helped the Public Health Agency of Canada think strategically about how to get the most out of its social media approach.

Together, we spent time thinking carefully about who the Agency wanted to engage through social media, for what purposes, on what issues and involving which tools.  The strategy also allows them to gather data and measure success.

PHAC Target Audiences

Facebook Information Centre

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Ascentum and the Public Health Agency of Canada understood that, with over 12 million Canadians as active users, Facebook presented a powerful vehicle to disseminate timely health advice to members of the public.

Using its in-depth expertise on Facebook, Ascentum designed and built a customize H1N1 Information Centre for the Agency.  This made health information available in personalized “bit size” pieces that people could share with their friend on Facebook.  There was a mini-factbook for pregnant women and another for parents of children in daycares or schools.  There were even quizbooks where people could test their knowledge of H1N1.

In addition, visitors could get regular news updates on Facebook as “fans” of the Agency’s presence or via viral messaging shared through social networks.  This has helped the Public Health Agency of Canada build relationships and grow its community.

PHAC Info Cent + Tool

To learn more about our social media work with the Public Health Agency of Canada, please contact us.

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