Health is one of those things that affects everyone at some point in their lives. Although it’s fundamental and inescapable, health isn’t something that a lot of people want to discuss online, unlike breaking up with a boyfriend, or getting an amazing deal on a new pair of sunglasses.

First, here are some stats to from the Pew Research Center you should know:

  • 72% of Internet users research online for health information.
  • 52% of smartphone users used their device to research health information.
  • Only 3-4% of Internet users have shared their experiences with health care service providers or treatments online.

As you can see, people aren’t big on spreading the word on their personal experiences in health, but the good news is that people are listening and looking for information.

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So should your hospital, health clinic or public health organization have an online presence? Absolutely. There are a few ways to get around the stigma of health, reach people with your messages, and maybe even get them talking.

1.  Make it a Cause

People may not be willing to come forward and talk about their personal health issues, but what about getting behind a cause? Do you remember last summer’s ice bucket challenge for ALS? Everyone from celebrities to everyday people were dumping ice on their heads. Although the videos were fascinating to watch, they furthered the dialogue and awareness around ALS, not to mention, helping to raise $220 million to fight the disease.

So how can you get people to stand with your cause? Since most people will never create an online video, start small and build with your call to actions. Tools like Twibbon makes it easy for people to show solidarity on their social profiles on Facebook and Twitter.

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Remember when the Supreme Court of the United States announced the legalization of gay marriage, Facebook made it very easy for users to change their profile to show their support. Do the same thing for your cause by making it easy for users to sign up and show solidarity on your website or social sites. As people see more changing profiles, they’ll want to know what’s going on.

Want to increase awareness to your cause? Discover 6 reasons why your health organization should have an online event calendar.

2.  Get Visual

Health can be confusing, complicated, or something we just don’t want to think about. As Mary Poppins says, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Your sugar can be visuals ranging from anything from infographics to videos. Banner Health does a great job by dispelling myths about everything from flu shots to educating parents about how much sleep their kids need a night.

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Infographics are a great way to simplify complex information. If you’re not ready to invest in a graphic designer, all’s not lost.  You can check out Hubspot’s free infographic templates or create something breath taking with Piktochart.

3.  Go Where the People Are

So where are people going to find health information?  Aside from running a Google search, people are asking questions within message boards and discussion groups. One of the most popular health communities online is WebMD. If you want to find more groups or simply want to search topic discussions, Board Reader and Omgili are great search engines for finding these groups.

Join these communities, just be sure to adhere to their guidelines. You can serve as a helpful resource or be an observer. The discussions can give you insights into the topics people are concerned about. You can create optimized content around those hot topics, allowing people who are searching for them to find your organization.

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