Healthcare providers are finally opening up to social media – and it’s about time. I wrote recently about the Gardasil campaign, and now we have the UK NHS opening their own Facebook page: Say Yes To The Test.
Say Yes To The Test is a campaign to inform people about chlamydia, supported by the NHS website. At the time of writing, the Facebook page has been live for around two weeks and has over 36,000 fans. Given that the average Facebook user has 130 friends and that every new sign-up displays on all of a user’s friends’ profiles, the page has potentially reached 4.7 million users.
In fact, the campaign is being aimed at under-25s. A quick spot check of people who have commented on the page shows that they often have well over 130 friends. This is the very definition of a successful viral campaign: a campaign that has grown on the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth.
The real success of the campaign, however, lies with the way the page is being moderated – or, rather, how it isn’t being moderated. The NHS is not applying a heavy hand to comments; I couldn’t see any obvious signs of censorship, and the tone throughout the comments is light and informal.
This has its pros and cons, of course. On the downside, there is a lot of crudity: mostly jesting about virginity and all of the expected commentary from a young audience. On this level, it is questionable how seriously some of the users are taking the campaign. That said, for every rude jibe there is another comment in obvious support of the campaign. In fact, many users’ questions are being answered by other users.
Building a conversation
The NHS has taken an intelligent approach to conversing with the Facebook crowd. Site admins are not responding to every post, but they are answering questions. While these answers are largely informational, they are also tailored responses. The NHS is having a conversation with the users.
Aiding this conversation is the simple nature of the Facebook page. There are no warnings or disclaimers, aside from a page of information and links.
There is always a risk with campaigns like this that they won’t attract a following, or that users will be faced with inaccurate or incomplete information. However, the NHS has made an important step in the right direction.