Recently I undertook the research Engaging “natural spaces” - Immunization and social media in Ukraine which is summarised at this page. That research focuses on how different communities in Ukraine use social media and engage in communication about polio, vaccination and routine immunisation.
The results showed an impressive volume of daily communication about vaccination occuring outside pages run by health or governmental organisations but within “natural spaces” where residents of a particular city or parents gather for communication to support their daily lives.
The parents’ groups, in particular, showed how active those platforms can be. Often created only for mothers under the topic of child-support allowance, they unite over 1 million personal accounts to sell clothes, discuss children’s products and talk about child health. Vaccination-related questions appear all day long with the most active discussions happening at night time, while children are in bed! Mothers ask advice from their peers, checking on things such as whether vaccination is advisable if their child is ill and reporting on reactions following vaccination (often attaching amateur pictures made with smartphones of the inoculation place and asking if it not too red or too big). The presence of health professionals to address those questions is limited. Being an open space, any information can be easily circulated by-passing standard health filters.
The questions derived from this data are the following. Please join the discussion and share your opinion and insights:
1. How can we engage with target audiences, who tend to communicate inside their “natural” and comfortable platforms?
2. What mechanisms for transferring accurate and credible information about polio and vaccination can we use?
3. Is there a place for these particular tactics in the overall communication strategy on social media that mostly adopt traditional health communication approaches (eg push messages, games, videos, sponsored content, posters)?
4. What is the role of medical professionals in this process and how can we build bridges between professionals and the more general audiences in such groups?