Patient Education Integrating the World of Health Care and Social Media

Johannesburg, 21 October 2015 – In July 2015, social media strategist, Mandy Degener - from Liquorice Africa, was invited by Unilever to speak to health care professionals about how to navigate the exciting social media arena. South Africa has seen explosive growth in social media in the last few years, and according to, there were 24.9 million active internet users, 20.9 million internet mobile users, as well as 79.1 million mobile connections across the country in December 2014. In fact, 60% of South African adults online are now using two or more social media sites.

Our clients are able to connect anywhere and at anytime, and they are hungry for information on a variety of topics, including nutrition and diet, sustainability and health care.

Popular media, aware of the huge public appetite for nutrition information, and moving, as they do, much faster than science, frequently overhype individual studies, which makes it seem as though the scientific understanding of healthy eating is changing more rapidly than it actually is,” Mandy said in her opening address. “Healthcare professionals need to make consumers aware that not all nutrition information found on blogs is accurate, and that they need to try using information that is reliable and not just an individual’s opinion. If social content does not address these issues, consumers will search for sites or apps that can be considered peer reviewed and accurate – social media needs to be more than just quick and efficient!

Here are Mandy’s tips for increasing impact online:

On Facebook:

BE CONCISE in imagery, ensuring that viewers get the message (visual & context drives engagement).
OPTIMISE for pausing power using high quality, well-produced imagery (post 3 times a week).
DRIVE CLICKS using educational content and a paid approach to drive reach (due to algorithm changes).

On Twitter:

BE INTERESTING – high quality, thought-leading content is king of Twitter, so make sure that you create engaging content that solves problems (add value & curate with sharing driving authority).
BE ETHICAL – with info that is true and in the public interest (take it offline & use DM to resolve issues not for the public domain – being polite with options for further conversation e.g. email or a link to further research, but with a clear opinion).
BE VISUAL – use images in your tweets even when you’re mobile as it increases engagement and reach (one of the easiest, quickest ways in which to design images on the go is Pablo by Buffer.)

The (mis)information age has given people an insatiable appetite for nutrition and diet information, such as nutrition tips and advice, the latest nutrition studies, as well as hot nutrition topics and events. To level the playing field, we must help to dissect content for consumers – across the latest trending topics, use fun content that gets the message across, and point to useful tools that help those in need; to not only promote your expertise, but keep people coming back for more.