Social Media for All
By Mike R. Fraser, PhD
I am not that old, I mean, I just received a “Young and Aspiring CEO” award in November (to be honest I made the cutoff by 17 days) but nothing makes me feel older than the topic of social media. Why? I can certainly remember a time before computers, iPhones, and DVDs. A cell phone was where you got your one phone call in jail before lock up. One had to use the telephone to reconfirm an airline reservation, and seat assignments were stickers that were glued to your boarding pass. We had to type memos using a typewriter and I even remember carbon paper and white out. A facebook was a printed pamphlet that all first year students at my college received and we flipped through pages to find friends, their phone numbers, and hometowns. Twitter was a verb to describe something your heart did when you were in love, not a noun. Boy, thinking about all that really does make one feel old, doesn’t it?
But social media is not just something for the young and techno-savvy: social media is for all of us. And that is what this issue of Pulse is all about – how to leverage social media to meet our urgent maternal and child health challenges. What if you were able to send text messages to all new families in your state with links to information and resources? What if you were able to create communities on line for various partner groups and get real-time feedback from advocates using Twitter? What if you had a Facebook page for your agency that allowed you to discuss current MCH issues in your communities, share information easily among your constituents, and learn from those you are engaged with statewide, and share nationally? These are all uses of social media that are happening now in some states and being contemplated by others. It is time for all of us (including AMCHP) to evaluate the gains we could make by adopting a social media strategy.
Social media provides a great outlet to extend and expand the reach of your programs to more people, faster, and more cheaply than many other methods. We would be silly not to use these new techniques to our advantage. The features in this issue of Pulse highlight some of the ways that technology and social media have been adopted and used by MCH program and partner organizations. I hope they give you some idea of the power of social media for your programs, and our shared work. And while I feel old thinking about the way things used to be, it is refreshing that even I can proudly say I have a Facebook page, can chat and text like a champ, and truly enjoy thinking about how to use these technologies and many others to Make Change Happen for our nation’s women, children, and families.