CDC publishes social media toolkit online

Guidebook rates level of effort needed for 15 Web 2.0 tools

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a new guide online for using social media to share health information. The guide offers 12 lessons the agency learned as a pioneer in the Gov 2.0 space.

The Health Communicator’s Social Media Toolkit provides an overview of CDC’s experience with more than a dozen types of social media tools, including blogs, Really Simple Syndication feeds, Facebook and Twitter, and with less well-known applications such as virtual worlds and e-cards.


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The toolkit features a chart that lists Gov 2.0 tools and the relative effort needed for their use. For example, podcast postings, widgets and e-cards can be done on small budgets with little staff time, while podcast creation and online video production require moderate staff time and budgets, according to the chart. Social networks such as Facebook demand the highest investment of staff time but a low financial investment.

CDC included its “Top Lessons Learned from Using Social Media,” drawing on its experience with MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other sites. The lessons include:

  • Make strategic choices about media based on audience, communications objective and message, and assess the level of effort needed.
  • Go where the people are by choosing the most popular social media sites.
  • Adopt low-risk tools first, such as podcasts, videos and widgets.
  • Create portable content to extend the reach and encourage the sharing of content.
  • Facilitate sharing of content and encourage participation and interaction.
  • Take advantage of existing social networks.
  • Consider using mobile phone applications to reach a large audience.
  • Set realistic goals and do not expect social media to meet all communications needs.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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