Social media helps promote healthy behaviors

Encouraging community members to make small steps to improve their health

Social media is a powerful tool to inspire healthy behavior change. That might surprise you. But we want to be where people are talking about personal health and, more and more, they do so on social media. It’s why The University of Vermont Medical Center uses social media as part of its strategy to support the health of our communities.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that 70 percent of the US population uses social media. Eighty percent of people search for health information online. Social support, a key aspect of healthy behavior change, is a critical part of social media.

In 2017, The University of Vermont Health Network hosted two successful social media campaigns focused on health and wellbeing.

‘Resolution Generator’ helps people set healthy resolutions

The UVM Health Network kicked off 2017 with the Resolution Generator.

Users visited an interactive website to generate custom resolutions within the categories of physical, social, community, financial and career wellbeing. Using a cast of colorful characters from all corners of the animal kingdom, users enjoyed tongue-in-cheek memes to accompany the resolutions. People were encouraged to cycle through the set until they found the right one. They could then commit to the resolution and share it with their friends.

The campaign was a major success. More than 17,000 people visited the website and 4,316 resolutions were generated. Seventy-eight percent reported that they kept the resolution they set.

Could you do one small thing to improve your health?

That was the central question of the “One Small Thing” social media campaign that launched in June 2017.

On the campaign website, visitors could watch videos that provided tips on how to eat, sleep and move better. They could enter a contest to win prizes that included a FitBit, sleep sound machine and organic meal delivery service. They could also sign up for community in-person and online wellbeing classes – close to UVM Health Network hospitals in Vermont and New York. In this way, we used social media to inspire people to take action: one small step in the direction of better health.

Overwhelmingly, feedback was positive and results were notable. Overall, 42.5 percent of participants said they used a tip from the One Small Thing campaign. Additionally, 36.2 percent improved physical fitness, 32.9 percent improved food choices and planning, and 22.6 percent improved sleep habits.