5 Best Health Social Media Campaigns

Social media has changed the way we learn about what’s happening in the world. For consumers and businesses alike, it is a source of truth, a place to find and share authentic content, and a channel to spread the word about a product, service, or movement.

For health organizations, social media is an organic channel to address their issues, raise awareness and start a real conversation. Here are the 5 best health social media campaigns which have done that through the power of social media.

5 Best Health Social Media Campaigns

1. #Movember: The Movember Foundation

The Movember Foundation focuses on something that isn’t often talked about: men’s health issues. They commit to saving men’s lives by tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.

Their annual social media campaign, #Movember, proposes an enticing challenge to ditch the razors and grow out a mustache for the month of November to raise awareness and funds. Conversations about men’s health issues are started organically: “Why are you growing out your mustache?”.

These conversations then spread through social channels that grow traction and engagement. They tell the brand story and spread awareness in an authentic way. The Movember Foundation grasps the impact that social listening has on their community.

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2. Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS Association

Powerful social media campaigns have the tendency to go viral over the internet. An incredible example of this is the ALS Association ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ social media campaign which raised over $115 million in August 2014 for ALS research. Here’s how it went down:

Three men living with ALS posted a video of themselves dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. Then they each called out one person to perform the same challenge. Before they knew it, 17 million people had uploaded their videos to social media over a span of one month. Over 400 million people watched these videos 10 billion times.

The Ice Bucket Challenge social media campaign leveraged word of mouth marketing to spread awareness about ALS and the community. It brought millions of people together, was fun and easy to do and therefore had a viral impact on the world.

3. Know your Lemons: Worldwide Breast Cancer

The Worldwide Breast Cancer organization designed an image illustrating the twelve signs of breast cancer. This image is of 12 lemons sitting in an egg carton and it spread like wildfire over social media.

The campaign that backed up this image was called #KnowYourLemons and it taught women and men to easily recognize the 12 most common breast cancer symptoms. It also inspired the world to break the taboo and fear of this disease.

Using a friendly and approachable visual to explain breast cancer is what made this social media campaign so influential and shareable. Within seconds of looking at the carton of lemons, someone was educated on the signs of breast cancer without having to deal with a lot of text or any unpleasant images.

health social media campaigns

4. World Health Day: World Health Organization

World Health Day is a day dedicated to raising awareness and an understanding of universal health coverage. This year the World Health Organization created a dedicated ‘campaign essentials’ page that armed everyone with the necessary tools to support and share the facts about World Health Day.

This page included a fact sheet, an infographic, an official hashtag, downloadable social media squares and videos. The goal was to motivate people to share at a local level in order to reach an international audience.

health social media campaigns

Having accessible, shareable content is crucial for a social media campaign to spread and gain credibility. Followers and supporters of a cause are the backbone to the success of a social media campaign and need to be armed with the right tools to spread the word in a simple and effective way.

5. #IDEFY: Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood launched #IDEFY, a social media campaign that inspired young people to use social media to share with the world what they defy – racism, homophobia, slut-shaming and beyond. They were asked to participate by posting an image of themselves on social media with the word DEFY written on their fist and a caption using the hashtag #IDEFY.

What was special about this social media campaign is that it was launched with a Facebook Live event at the same time that other related activations were taking place around the country.

It went live on January 22, 2017, on the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and one day after the Women’s March.

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Planned Parenthood aligned with activations related to their cause and timed their campaign launch very purposefully. This strategy brought a deeper, holistic meaning to their movement.

Leverage Social Media to Launch a Successful Campaign

These five campaigns prove that social media is a powerful channel to start conversations, spread the word, and raise awareness about the health issues they support.

The various strategies that these organizations leverage to make their campaign a success set the stage for other organizations looking to build their own social media campaign to raise awareness.

PR and Advertising Agencies Use Twitter to Connect with Audiences

PR and advertising agencies understand how to position a message, how to broadcast it, and how to measure its impact. On Twitter, however, the rules of communication have changed. People can now use Twitter to connect, directly interacting with companies and their agencies, something that has disrupted corporate communications.

Modern consumers want to align their consumer dollars with values that they hold dear. In this regard, Twitter allows direct communication,  no matter if your brand is B2C or B2B.

We’ve analyzed the Twitter accounts of well-regarded PR and advertising agencies to see how they use Twitter to connect.

Making the Workplace More Human

Young professionals are increasingly attracted to working with mission-driven businesses. Thus, agencies need to compete on salary, perks, culture, and how they develop talent.

Twitter allows agencies to highlight their colleagues and their interests. By putting faces behind the brand, they’re humanizing their interactions with their community and wider audience.

Edelman, the world-renowned PR agency uses Twitter to highlight their employees, so the public can get to know the account managers and publicists behind their award-winning campaigns.

TBWA London shares the insights of their Chief Strategy Officer about the importance of supporting dads on their parenting role. This may not seem like the kind of topic a large PR agency would talk about, but that’s why it works: it focuses on the values on which the people inside the company stand.

FleishmanHillard, a Missouri-based PR agency, highlights employees volunteering for GLIDE, an organization that works to “break the cycles of poverty and marginalization.” Like TBWA London, their social stream isn’t always related to their work as an agency but showcases their company culture as a place where people with strong beliefs work.

Sharing Their Expertise

Since these agencies are world-renowned for their advertising, marketing, and publicity work, it’s no surprise that they take any opportunity to broadcast their expertise. We see them sharing the latest articles they publish on their blogs, their earned media mentions, the awards they win, and the conferences in which they participate.

In this example, Ketchum shows a photo of the time when they won the prestigious PRWeek Campaign of the Year Award.

Publicis shared the following tweet when they won a new account with the Campbell Soup Company:

Wunderman shows how their executives participate in important events, like the Paypal’s Global Marketing Summit.

Being Transparent and Personal

Consumer trends tell us that people don’t want to be sold to anymore; they want to buy from a company that they feel aligned with. To show consumers that your brand values share their consumer values, introduce transparency in your communications. Don’t show only the good parts—the wins, the successes—but include mentions of the failures and problems as well. Being transparent makes a brand seem more human, and therefore, relatable.

J. Walter Thompson, the New York-based marketing agency, decided to close an executive role for internal reasons. Instead of letting that slide below the carpet, they decided to show their process and how that related to their company culture.

Havas London has adopted a casual tone on Twitter and tweets more like an individual, and quite not like an agency. Their casual caring tone resonates with their community. The following tweet epitomizes their strategy, focusing on the human side of their business and underscoring their brand values.

McCann follows the example set by Havas London and tweets in a personal voice. They don’t shy away from humor, making their Twitter account stand out among accounts from other agencies of their caliber.


Reviewing these large PR and advertising agencies we see that though the work they do is B2B, agencies use social media to attract new talent, highlight colleagues, share their work and be transparent about what goes into it, express thought leadership, and broadcast brand values.

Corporate speak never engages on social channels that’s why these agencies use the first person voice while tweeting. In the end, these agencies want the public, their community, and their potential clients to connect with the individuals behind the agency. And, in so doing they reveal brand values asking their audiences to engage with a truly human organization.

Start a Trend with This Essential Ingredient

Let’s Start a Trend

Not just any trend. Not a fad, or a fly by night kind of trend, but a trend that soars, that’s successful not only in product sales or market recognition, but one that becomes part of the cultural conversation. When we’ve seen it happen, it occurs to us, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Then we start looking for the next big thing. Hoping to hit it big ourselves, but when the excitement wanes or the process becomes overwhelming, we tend to push our ideas aside and replace them with more practical notions and seemingly “achievable” goals. Then it happens again, someone comes up with another idea that shakes the global community, and our eyes widen with envy once more.

In a bygone era, trend evolution had a top-down trajectory. Innovators, product developers, and idea people came up with concepts. The good ones stuck and gained momentum. Ideas, as well as a physical product, were then handed over to marketers who with some savvy media manipulation attracted the appropriate consumer base. Well, gone are the days of the top-down marketing trajectory. Bottom(s) up as we say in the fashion industry! It’s time to let the consumer lead.

Easier Said Than Done

The big gun advertisers and marketers don’t want to give up the front line so easily. They are continuously waving cool shiny objects in front of our eyes, hoping to distract us from the critical task at hand, listening to the consumer and letting insight (not hype) drive the creative process.

Let’s get a few things out of the way; AI, VR, IoT, sharing economy, cloud migration, crowdsourcing, FinTech, social media trends, fake news… so shiny!

Don’t jump on a trend because it’s there. To initiate a trend, a new cultural zeitgeist, it is necessary to look at the big picture of how trends evolve. Then, see how that fits into your business and speaks to your audience.

In our current socio-cultural landscape with trust seemingly out the window and new shiny technological advances appearing around every corner, it seems the consumer may want something familiar and safe to hold. Respond to your audiences’ emotional needs and tell a story that connects past and future in a succinct, linear, and comforting way. And while I stand behind my advice to avoid the hype, it should be clear that scanning the cultural landscape both near and far can help you see how changes in society can impact how new ideas are accepted and what becomes a trend.

Let’s Take the Experience Economy as an Example

You don’t have to dig too deep to discover that consumers are currently interested in community building, experiences, and lifestyle over brand-specific messaging. They desire both entertainment and experiences that say something unique about them. They are eager to get offline and go out and meet like-minded people including those who love the same brands they do and are happy to share these experiences via social media.

Savvy companies are figuring out how to change the brick and mortar environment in response to this need. While the giants are failing, smaller players are figuring out how to reinvent the store experience for the 21st century, focusing on authenticity and community while, in many ways, thinking about sales second. Stores are becoming brand meeting places and touch points. Whatever your business, there is an opportunity to create a comforting experience for your audience. After all, experiences help shape identity and create lifelong memories. This evolution is a win-win for strengthening brand loyalty and creating buzz.

Take a look at one of the most innovative viral campaigns in history from 20 years ago. The MasterCard, “Priceless” campaign launched in 1997 and highlighted the priceless human connection between a father and son. The tagline was: “Real conversation. Priceless.” Before social media there was social (a.k.a. word-of-mouth). The campaign went viral without the Internet. Fast forward to today, though the campaign has evolved to include curated “priceless” experiences, the basic premise has remained the same is stronger than ever.

The MasterCard “Priceless” campaign is still going strong two decades since it’s creation. It’s so successful that it is the foundation of all of MasterCard’s campaigns, both domestically and internationally.

Consider This, Consumers Are Looking for the Familiar and the Safe

So, how do you think they feel about the overwhelming choices we have? Personally, it makes me feel very anxious and confused. Bombarding consumers with too many options instead of honing in on what they really want is counter-productive. While our intention may be to simply give people choices, what is actually happening is the opposite. Analysis paralysis due the paradox of choice is a reality. The danger of this phenomenon is that the consumer may decide to react to this feeling of paralysis by deciding to opt out of the (consumer market) experience altogether.

If we aren’t able to take a step back from the market-driven race, focusing on trying to keep up, we might be missing the whole point. It’s something I think of as “clutter” (as opposed to choice). Why not decide to be the brand or company that simplifies the clutter? Curate heavily and speak not only to your audience’s emotions but also to their core values.

Brandless.com, which launched in July of this year, is making an effort to take the reigns of the simplicity trend in the food and household product category. They’ve addressed their customer’s core values of good products that work and simplified their product offering. This philosophy is reflected in all aspects of their visual identity. And, by using the direct to consumer model, they have taken out the middleman, offering consumers great value at $3 for every product on their site. Focusing on quality, simplicity, and value is not a bad trend to take a closer look at in our overly cluttered marketplace.

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Brandless.com has simplified their product offering and the consumer experience.

People Want What Is Familiar

If you are looking to create the next big trend, find something that people can relate to. Endear them. Base your strategy on core (global) human truths and values that evoke emotion. Don’t be a storyteller, be a story maker, and most importantly, listen to the people who have already made your business a success.

PR Strategy: The Future of Relationships

It crossed my mind recently that we may be losing our ability to build relationships without the guidance of technology. Perhaps this isn’t a new revelation, but it is one that is currently jabbing me in the heart as I both passively observe human interactions and reactions as well as contemplate my own. Something has changed. It is saturating the air and affecting our every breath. It’s not new information, it has been evolving, as trends do, slowly, but has reached a pinnacle on the cusp of wide adoption and it is important we address this with humble, intelligent urgency. Social media has all at once created social connectivity, in a profoundly exciting way, while also creating a socio-emotional disconnect that is profoundly disturbing. Is there a way to forge forward in technological advancement while responsibly shifting direction to address the world’s most important overarching issue, the future of relationships?

Esther Perel, a Belgian psychotherapist notable for her exploration of interpersonal relationships, recently gave a keynote at SXSW. Audience members lined up around the block anxious to hear her words of wisdom. Here’s one, “the quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life.” She went on to talk about how we need to bring relationships to the heart of our occupations and pre-occupations and that listening is our first and most primal sense. If we listen deeply to others, not only is humanity revealed, we are also able to better see ourselves as well as understand otherness and difference.

Optimization Fail

Technology has led to a grave optimization fail in that relationships take time. This only does not compute in our world of more, better, faster, now, options, options, and more options. While social media and AI are successfully speaking to our human need for adventure, novelty, change, mystery, freedom, and autonomy, it has yet to successfully address our other need for security, predictability, anchor, safety, rootedness, belonging and protection in any significant and meaningful way.  Relationships are our story. We need community, and we need our relationships to exist within a larger social context beyond the screen and beyond any screen induced contrived meet-up.

Story Making

Fact rant: online communication is massively distorted. Online social networking is fraught with false realities. Our Instagram lives are curated, crafted, and filtered. No one knows what truly goes on in the lives of others. Wait, wasn’t that the whole point? Like Mr. Rogers, says, “It’s hard not to like someone once you know their story.” The allure of simpler times beckons. But so does the allure of technology advancement, especially when it comes to AI and finding ways to enhance our lives as well as simplify them. How do we strike a perfect balance? We have become amazing storytellers; look at our friends’ Instagram stories!  Are we truly getting a glimpse into the lives of others? Maybe one way to move ahead with the comfort of the past and the excitement of the future is to start making stories together. For simplicity, let’s call it, story making.

The hype of the experience economy has perked up our ears. We are listening and watching, but much of what we are seeing is an oversaturation of highly styled Instagram worthy events that are F-U-N and allow the host to gain valuable exposure through influencer marketing. Cool, sure, but is there a story? And more importantly, is there a story people want to hear?

One of my favorite examples of how a great story can change and enhance perception is the literary and anthropological experiment, Significant Objects. Nearly a decade old, this experiment’s inherent value and commentary on human behavior is timeless. Objects were purchased at garage sales and thrift stores for an average of a dollar and change. Objects were then given a story, and the story and object were put up on e-bay. When consumers were able to connect to an object through a relatable story, the perceived value of that object increased significantly.

REI also famously included their consumer back in 2015 when they opted out of Black Friday, with the, “Opt Outside” campaign.  REI stores and website were closed, instead of asking customers to head outdoors. This encouraged behavior change and gave people the tools to do something different with their time. The first campaign was an overwhelming success and has continued each year. The 2017 campaign included a platform for consumers to tell their own stories (story making!) of outdoor adventures.


For PR and marketing pros, we not only need to involve our customers in the story, but we must also create stories that have messages that address the desires, challenges and unmet needs of our client. Don’t just tell a story; let the customer finish the story by making their real-life experiences central to its development.

We’re at a point in technological evolution where broad adoption of AI is wonder-inducing, where machine emotional intelligence (EI) is on the horizon, and machines are evolving to react to human physical and emotional wellbeing. So, with devices becoming emotionally intelligent, how will human behavior respond and how will that impact our evolution? If we cede our humanity to machines and “let them” take over, they will. If we can hold onto Esther Perel’s message that, “the quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life,” and take the time to make stories together, we may be able to evolve in symbiosis with our EI counterparts and live happily ever after.