Riding Shotgun with Social Media Pioneers!
I recently presented on a panel at the Immunization Action Coalition‘s Social Media Summit in Washington, DC where I met great people from the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, Every Child By Two, GAVI Alliance, Autism Science Foundation and public health departments across the country. We gathered to learn how to best use social media to promote childhood vaccines and answer parent’s concerns about vaccines. I was struck by the cooperation and collaboration of this group. I was also reminded of how we are still pioneers in this wild frontier of social media.
I have become well-versed in social media, digging in deep and getting my hands dirty learning about this new communications tool. For me, social media is a perfect confluence of technology and communication. I have always had the gift for communication. I have wanted to be a writer since 3rd grade. I’ve also always flirted with technology and science. Alas, my right brain is dormant in comparison to my left brain’s creativity.
Since joining the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition in January, we have struck out on the wild frontier of childhood immunizations on the web. We are in a controversial field. There are a lot of arguments swirling around shots for kids. Honestly, I never thought this position would be so controversial. Who knew protecting kids from diseases could get people so upset.
Until now the individuals and organizations who are concerned about vaccines have owned social media. Setting up Facebook groups, tweeting misinformation about vaccines, and blogging endlessly to refute the science that has proved that vaccines do not cause autism.
The reason that these organizations have been so convincing is that they have become part of pop culture. They have used emotion and personal stories to shade science. They have used the internet to share their beliefs. They are to be commended for their work in this field. Their strategy has been impressive and invasive.
Now with organizations using Twitter (GAVI, IAC & CCIC), Facebook (Every Child By Two) and blogging Autism Science Foundation the pro-vaccine movement has started to gain a foothold in social media. They are all working together to give parents a balance of scientifically-based information to make a fully informed decision about their child’s health care. They are bringing a balance of emotional stories of parents who believe in vaccines for the health of their child. They are giving a voice to parents who feel the social responsibility that vaccinating their children stops the spread of disease.
In their covered wagons, pro-vaccine organizations are striking out across this great country, bringing their pro-vaccine message to moms and the public. These organizations are setting up camp to listen to parent’s concerns about vaccines. These organizations are answering questions and engaging in conversations around vaccines.
It’s exciting to be part of a sector that is just now fully utilizing social media. There is so much to learn from these new pioneers. As pioneer Davy Crockett said, “Be always sure you’re right, then go ahead.”