Social Media Activity Engages General Public in ID Topics

This post by Yulia Strekalova originally appeared on Healio on Nov. 10, 2015.

A recently published report suggested that social media postings through established public health sources engage a sizable portion of the general public, with emerging public health risks such as Ebola drawing many users who would not otherwise participate in these online discussions.

Yulia Strekalova

Social media channels are popular sources of health-related information, but online audiences differ in their information behaviors,” Yulia A. Strekalova, MS, MBA, of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, wrote. “Active participation of audiences in communication and information exchange provides an opportunity to monitor for misconceptions, unanswered questions and information needs among the general public.”

Strekalova collected data posted on and associated with the CDC’s Facebook page from March 18, 2014 to Oct. 31, 2014 to examine trends in social media engagement and behavior. CDC posts and user comments were filtered for inclusion of the word “Ebola,” to focus the investigation on the largest health crises occurring during this time period. Information concerning total posting frequency, quantity of unique users, sex of users, comment length, comment posts per unique user, and time delay between a CDC post and user comment were collected for analysis.

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