Social media, when done right, holds great promise for public health practitioners. As the adoption of Facebook, Twitter, and other online engagement tools become more common among leaders of the field, so too will the insights and sharing of best practices.
With more than one in five youth between the ages of 12 and 18 years old targeted at school, bullying is a widespread problem. In a new journal article, the team at StopBullying.gov takes a close look at online conversations about bullying and uncovers new strategies for promoting public health messages about bullying.
Identifying New Strategies to Assess and Promote Online Health Communication and Social Media Outreach: An Application in Bullying Prevention, published in Health Promotion Practice, was written by Erin Reiney and Elizabeth Edgerton of the Health Resources and Services Administration along with bullying and communications experts from Clemson University and Widmeyer Communications.
Conversations about bullying—what it is, who is involved, and how to stop it—are taking place online, and many public health practitioners are looking for answers to their bullying-related questions. The article fills a need for relevant, research-based resources on bullying in the public health field, and prepares practitioners with the tools to better communicate with key audiences such as teachers, parents and students.
The authors analyzed common internet search terms and aligned social media content with terms used in those searches. They also identified influencers in social media spheres and how they shared their content – looking at which digital formats are most popular for sharing and creating content. The article outlines how the researchers tracked and reported on a variety of metrics to understand bullying conversations.
Key findings include:
- Seven search term combinations, such as “what is a bully” and “about bullying” represented the vast majority of bullying internet search words.
- A significant gap existed between language individuals use when searching for information, versus the vocabulary that health field content providers use when discussing the same topic.
- Most conversations about bullying were categorized as positive or very positive, often including solutions-oriented language or social media campaigns to drive antibullying awareness.
- Twitter hosted the largest share of bullying conversations compared to other major channels.
- Visuals, such as infographics and videos, were the most successful type of content.
- Several highly influential individuals and organizations, such as prominent bloggers and researchers, were at the forefront of the bullying conversation.
The team at StopBullying.gov looks forward to building on this research and helping to further the field of public health through research-based strategies for bullying prevention.