The Bigger Picture: Addressing Community Issues Through Social Media

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Today I learned of a fantastic-sounding new documentary titled “Food Stamped.” It’s about a couple who attempt to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet on a food stamp budget – about $1 per person, per meal, per day – for a total of $6.

The film is produced by Shira Potash, a nutrition educator, and her filmmaker husband Yoav, who wanted to take a deeper look at America’s food system. Not only do they live on a budget of $6 per day, they also consult with the United States Congress, food justice organizations, nutrition experts and people living on food stamps. As I’ve read, the final product is both humorous and eye-opening.

CEO Anna Roth featured the documentary’s trailer on her excellent blog Doing Common Things Uncommonly Well. I was thrilled to discover the documentary, and on a hospital CEO’s blog nonetheless.

At Hive we talk a lot about using social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook to promote hospital services and to provide health information to patients. But hospitals also have an opportunity to address community issues, like hunger, that affect our country.

We have all heard about the correlations between obesity and poverty; that children who are poor are at a greater risk of being overweight.  We know that when children (and adults) are overweight, they develop health problems, like diabetes, asthma and heart disease, which will require treatment at a hospital like yours.

Hive’s core values, include ideals like understanding, generosity, education and community, terms that are not typical marketing terms. That is because for hospitals, social media isn’t just about business objectives. It’s about patients and providing them with invaluable information that will leave them better informed, educated and, we hope, healthy.

The good news is that addressing issues like hunger on your Facebook and Twitter accounts is easy. One way to accomplish this is to make your followers aware of local issues in your community and tell them how they can help. For example, a large need in one community could be supplying the local food bank with nutritious food that will not only help feed hungry families, but will also provide them with the nutrition they need to be healthy and successful.

If your community faces this issue, you can invite your hospital’s nutritionist to recommend that your followers donate foods that are high in protein, fiber and nutrients, and then explain how those types of food benefit a child more than highly processed foods.

As part of your overall strategy, take your social media emphasis off business from time to time and focus on some of the key issues affecting your patients, and watch your community image and goodwill skyrocket.

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