Finding the Right Platform

Almost all Health System account requests are for Facebook pages. But it’s increasingly harder to be successful on Facebook without paying for ads and without visually appealing content. Don’t assume Facebook is your best bet just because “everyone uses it.”

Consider your potential audience. The Pew Internet Project has a great overview of social media users, broken down by site. Facebook use is growing among adults age 65 and older, but teens are leaving it for other sites.

Facebook Pages v.s. Groups

Through Facebook groups, an individual or group can create a page for people who share a cause or belong to a club or organization to network, have discussions and foster a sense of camaraderie.

Groups are appropriate if you wish to set up a controlled environment where colleagues or patients at UVA or anyone interested in a certain topic can communicate. They can be set so that a user must request to join and only members can view group discussions.

Pages are more appropriate if you wish to engage the general public, patients or potential patients.


Twitter is a great tool for interacting with others in your industry. For example, if one of your researchers just published a paper, you can share a link and tag both individuals and organizational who might be interested.

Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters, so a popular strategy is to post a teaser with a link to a story. You can also share photos and video, and like Facebook, these tweets stand out more and get more engagement.

However, if you’re planning to primarily post links and don’t have much visual content to share, Twitter is likely to be more successful for you than Facebook.  

One of Twitter's uses in health care is the ability to provide real-time updates from an event. Most conferences now create their own hashtags so attendees and organizers can chat and share their notes in real time.


Pinterest is a bookmarking and photo-sharing site where users share images (with links to the original source) they find appealing. Users can sort their images into different categories, or "boards," of their choosing.

While many Pinterest users primarily use the site to share images of recipes, fashion, crafts and DIY projects and catchy phrases, there is room for healthcare and nonprofits on Pinterest. Many healthcare organizations use the site to share inspirational quotes and infographics and remind users they are part of a community.


Instagram is a relatively easy way to capture photos and videos of everyday life in your department and around UVA. Departments using Instagram, include the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, IM-Rec Sports, Madison House and most athletic teams.


In its most basic form, a blog is simply a website with content displayed in reverse-chronological order. But it also enables conversations in a way that isn't easy to do with static websites like our patient and consumer site.

Blogs can be the most time-intensive of all social media platforms. Doing it right means investing a considerable amount of time planning your blog posts (we advise planning several months in advance) and at least an hour or more a week promoting your blog posts. Additionally, you’ll want to write posts that people will find easily through search engines like Google, which takes SEO research.

Posts are usually promoted via other social media tools, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Reddit, so you’ll want to have personal or professional accounts on these tools.

Multimedia is also becoming critical in blogging. Most successful blogs have an image or video with every post; some are only images and video.

The Health System has a patient-focused blog and is always looking for story ideas.

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