Amazing the way swine flu/H1N1 was picked up by social media, when WHO raised the pandemic level to an alarming 5 (out of 6), panicked people across the globe turned to the Internet for information.
Throughout this feverish online activity, WHO was fairly absent in my view (though being quoted in all media). CDC ,on the other hand, has been using social media tools in textbook manner, establishing themselves as the trusted expert and online voice of reason. Through two Twitter accounts: @CDCEmergency and @CDC_eHealth they provide information updates, and follower nrs have risen to more than 65,000 (from 600 prior to the outbreak). Through Twitter, CDC has also directed people to their YouTube channel where videos related to swine flu have so far clocked up more than 800,000 views (growing at amazing pace everday). They’ve also set up a page on their own website, with RSS feeds, podcasts, subscription to email updates etc.. The approach is paying off, with total website visits having grown by 123% this week alone. Hopefully this can serve as a good example for other health agencies and help them revise their outreach approach..