Using Social Media
Social media (such as Facebook or Twitter) is a great way to communicate and encourage
discussions with your audience online. Facebook pages have been trialled for Smokefree with some success – both nationally and locally – bringing together an online community of smokers, ex-smokers and NHS advisers via the world’s largest social network, to share stories, tips and advice in a familiar, ‘non-authoritarian’ way.
The national Facebook page can be found on www.facebook.com/NHSSmokefree and is a great site to recommend to existing quitters on the programme. It provides peer-to-peer support to encourage quit attempts and minimise relapse. Individuals can contribute to discussions, answer questions, offer advice and provide real-life testimony. Currently the page has over 45,000 fans – a great way to show quitters that they are not alone!
Local Facebook page pilots have been run in Sheffield and Stoke to help establish the best way for local areas to create, manage and promote local pages. Check out the Stoke-on-Trent page at www.facebook.com/NHSSmokefreeStoke.
The advantage of local pages is that they can be used to communicate local information such as groups, pharmacies and contact details. Quitters can get support from other quitters and advisers from their own community, in the comfort of their own
Before setting up a page, you should remember that a Facebook page acts as an extension of the service that you offer and you should consider the time and effort required to manage the page on a long-term basis. The more people that use the page, the more successful it will be, so it would be worth considering what budget you have available to promote your page before you get started.
Best practice guidelines have been created from these pilots for local services. They’re a great starting point if you’re new to social media and feature useful information from setting up your page right through to daily moderation of content and posts.