Social media is among the fastest developing communication platforms. According to Moorhead and others,the use of social network outlets in sharing information has dominated the modern communications(2013). As Moorhood et al. elaborates, internet-based platforms have become one of the easiest and quickest ways of disseminating messages to the public as its usage continues to surge across the globe. For this reasons, various industries have taken to the social media to develop and are using them as platforms to develop their agenda. Traditionally, the medicine field has mainly relied on the face-to-face communication between the consultants and their clients. However, the increase in internet usage, as well as the growing popularity of the social media, has led to increased online public health communications (Thackeray, Neiger, Smith, & Van Wagenen, 2012).Even though social media provide platforms for engaging the audience in meaningful interactions, public health agencies have been critiqued for using the internet-based media in spreading mass information rather than interacting with the public (Kass-Hout & Alhinnawi, 2013).It is in light of this criticism that this paper reviews the use of social media by one of the United States’ prominent public health organization, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Essentially, this paper analyze the establishment’suse of the LinkedIn social network platform.
Benefits and Challenges of Using Social Media for Public Health Communication
The incorporation of internet-based social networks in public health communications is beneficial in various ways. Firstly, social media provides platforms in which health professions shares information on various health conditions. For instance, medical specialists educate the mass population on signs and symptoms of diseases and ways of dealing with chronic conditions diabetes. Additionally, social media platforms improve health awareness by increasing interaction between the health care providers and the public. Increased health awareness enables the public to be moreaccountable over their health. It also increasespeople’s participation in health making policies, through active involvement in health forums (Moorhead et al., 2013).Further, social media provide a platform through which the health professions collect the public’s feedback on various health issues. For instance, public health researchers can collect data that helps in advancing the health knowledge from the social media users.
Despite the various benefits mentioned, the use of social media in public health communications is associated with different challenges and limitations. For example, health specialists are concerned with the quality of the information disseminated through the social Medias. As Moorhead and othersexplain, there is no regulation of information shared through most of the social media (2013). For this reason, social media creates a risk of feeding the public with incorrect or unprofessional healthcare information, which may be detrimental to the public health. Additionally, social media platforms lack confidentiality and privacy that should be maintained between the client and the practitioner.
ASCO and LinkedIn Social Site
LinkedIn is a social networking site that is mainly used for professional interactions as opposed to social networking. The site was foundedin 2002 but did gain popularity until May 2003 when it became fully operational. Today, the site enjoys over 365 million users in over 200 nations in the world. The users include individual and cooperates’ accounts, which are run as platforms to market personal or organization’s Agenda.
ASCO is among the organizations that use their LinkedIn account to reach out to the public. As at September 21, 2015, the organization enjoyed 8,960 followers in LinkedIn. This means that there are nearly 9000 people interested in learning about the organization through their posts on the LinkedIn social site. This followership includes both the oncologist professionals as well as laymen who wish to remain abreast with the organizations’ daily business. Ordinarily, the public would anticipate receiving new information concerning the field of clinical oncologists from ASCO. However, ASCO does not appear to be keen on sharing public health-related information on their LinkedIn account. On the contrary, the organization’s list of recent updates reveals that that it only posts job adverts and invites suitable applicants to apply. For the past one year, for example, ASCO LinkedIn account has only published the list of available job openings in the company with no indication of a public health related post (American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2015).
While ASCO maintains the professional aspect of the LinkedIn site, it is recommendable that they also use the site to interact with their followers on public health matters. The company can use its LinkedIn account to post information that is related to its mission of fighting cancer through research and education. For instance, the company can be availing the links to their latest research and findings to their nearly 9000 followers. Using the LinkedIn site to pass information on the latest knowledge on cancer will ensure that the company uses this social medium as a platform to achieve its main objectives.
A SWOT Analysis of ASCO
|Positive Impact||Negative Impact|
· ASCO has over 30000 members. It is, therefore, able to reach and educate a significant percentage of cancer physicians who, in effect, offer better care to cancer patients.
· It has been in existence for a long time, since 1964. Therefore, it has won peoples’ confidence and trust. It is, therefore, able to recruit new members for its survival.
· It has many ways of dissipating information and enlightening its members. Other than the use of meetings, conferences, workshops, and symposia in educating its members, ASCO has also published many books and journals; thus, information members can get the information easily.
· ASCO crafts special curricular for oncologists that enables them to keep abreast with the dynamics of cancer care and treatment.
· Few members: Considering that there are so many cancer patients, the physicians should also be many. However, ASCO registers physicians who only deal with cancer, and not all physicians.
· Not everything is known about cancer: ASCO has not gathered all the information about the disease.
· ASCO members and physiciansdo not manage to cure everybody assome cancer cases remain unattended due to a shortage of physicians.
· Inadequate resources: the organization does not have enough resources, for instance, finances, to meet all its requirements.
· Lack of commitment from members: Some members do not allocate enough time and resources to cancer patients’ care.
· ASCO conducts regular meetings. This is a viable opportunity to keep updating its members and the general public on the latest news about cancer. This is important considering that there are always new developments in cancer care and treatment.
· Institutions of higher learning are training new lots of physicians yearly. As a result, new physicians are graduating from schools and colleges continuously. ASCO can, therefore, seize this opportunity to educate more people and ensure that cancer care improves.
· ASCO enjoys global recognition: Due to this, it does not face many challenges, for instance, reduced participation from respondents, when conducting its research. The recognition also enables it to solicit for resources from partner organizations and the government.
· Additionally, ASCO conducts research regularly, which allows it to be conversant and gather enough information concerning the disease.
· New types of cancers are developing daily; thus, a lot of research has to be conducted.Extensive research requires a lot of resources from the organization, thus increasing the cost of running the organization.
· The high cost of treating cancer is a significant burden to the patients, and it may kill the dream of the organization. The organization may spend so much in training oncologists who may not treat patients due to the high cost of treatment.
· Oncologists, who are the members of ASCO, are growing old. With time, the current ones may be overwhelmed by the ever-increasing number of cancer patients.
It is possible to convert the weaknesses into strengths. For instance, ASCO can conduct more research to be more equipped with information to educate the oncologists. Additionally, it can increase its campaigns to register more members who are more committed. By doing this, more patients will be treated and given the proper care. Also, the organization needs to solicit for more funds from well-wishers and the government. This way, the weaknesses will have been converted to strengths.
Despite the possible threats and weaknesses of the organization, its strengths can be applied to overcome threats. For instance, by developing and updating the special type of curriculum for oncologists, ASCO can deal with the threat of the new types of cancers. Additionally, ASCO, being known globally, can use its popularity to solicit for funds to address the threat of high cost of cancer treatment. The trust enjoyed by the organization can also be helpful during the recruitment of new physicians and also in drumming support for oncology as a discipline, to replace the aging oncologists.
Opportunities can be maximized by holding more educative meetings, workshops, and symposia. Also, more students need to be encouraged to pursue oncology courses in the institutions of higher learning so as to offset the specialists’ scarcity. Moreover, ASCO needs to market itself more to the public so as to raise awareness of its engagements. Public recognition will enable it to conduct its research much more efficiently.
ASCO weaknesses can be minimized in many ways. For instance, more members may be allowed to join the organization. Also, more research should be conducted to ensure that physicians are armed with the most recent knowledge regarding the disease. There is also the need to sensitize the members on the essence of being more committed to their duty. ASCO should also be well funded to enable it meet its goals and objectives.
American Society of Clinical Oncology.(2015). Recent Updates.LinkedIn.
ASCO.org | Making a World of Difference in Cancer Care. (n.d.)
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Thackeray, R., Neiger, B. L., Smith, A. K., & Van Wagenen, S. B. (2012). Adoption and use of social media among public health departments. BMC public health, 12(1), 242.