Health Canada Posts Controversial Topics on Facebook

Health Canada communicates and educates with social media

Health Canada has an active presence on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. They post about anything that is health-related that may be of interest to Canadians, from product recalls to vacation safety tips to vaccination. Their posts are usually of an educational or informative basis.

At the time of writing this blog post, May 8th 2019, the following for Health Canada on their social media networks are as follows:

  • Facebook: 111,142
  • Twitter: 229,000
  • LinkedIn: 99,752
  • YouTube: 4,549

Analysis of the Health Canada Facebook page

For the purpose of this blog post, we decided to take a look at Health Canada’s Facebook page because it has the highest level of engagement per post compared to all of the Health Canada social sites. We also decided to look at only 2019 posts, therefore the following analysis looks at all of the Health Canada Facebook posts from January 1 2019 to May 1 2019.

The Health Canada Facebook page actually goes by the name of “Healthy Canadians“. The page has been in existence since November 2019, and it is managed by 46 Canadian administrators. Approximately 3 posts get published per day on the Health Canada Facebook page, the majority of which are accompanied by a photo, and a few with a video. Health Canada promotes some of its posts, so it is possible that Canadians have seen some of their promoted posts even if they do not follow their page.

Examples of recently promoted Health Canada Facebook posts:

Statistics on Health Canada Facebook Posts

Health Canada posted a total of 376 posts during the first five months of 2019. Most posts are unique in their messaging or are repeated just a few times. For the purpose of this article, we picked out the posts that seemed to repeat a similar message most frequently. Here is what we found;

  • 32 posts on the topic of recalls, which involved either foods or products,
  • 24 posts on the topic of vaccinations,
  • 16 posts on the topic of measles,
  • 12 posts on vaping,
  • 12 posts on cannabis and
  • 10 posts on opioids.
Facebook reaction icons.

The posts that generated the most engagement were on the following topics:

  1. Measles
  2. Vaccination (related to flu or measles)
  3. Recall (food or product)
  4. Vaping **
  5. Opioid **
  6. Cannabis **

** Note that although the vaping, opioid, cannabis topics came in 4th, 5th and 6th place respectively, their total numbers were well below those of the top 3 topics, in the range of 1-4% the total engagement of the top 3 topics.

The posts that generated the most shares were on the following topics:

  1. Recall (food or product)
  2. Measles
  3. Vaccination (related to flu or measles)

The posts that generated the most comments were on the following topics:

  1. Measles
  2. Vaccination
  3. Recall **

** Note that although recall came in 3rd place, its total was well below those of the top 2 topics.

The posts that generated the most likes were on the following topics:

  1. Measles
  2. Recall
  3. Vaccination (related to flu or measles)
  4. Opioid **
  5. Vaping **

** Note that although the opioid and vaping topics came in 4th and 5th place respectively, their total numbers were well below those of the top 3 topics.

The posts that generated the most angry face reactions were on the following topics:

  1. Measles
  2. Salmonella
  3. Vaccination (related to flu or measles)

The posts that generated the most surprise ‘wow’ reactions were on the following topics:

  1. Recall (food or product), by about 5 fold the amount of ‘wow’ reactions for the topic in 2nd place
  2. Measles
  3. Vaccination

Some of the Health Canada Facebook posts are controversial

It is clear that some of Health Canada’s Facebook posts are generating controversy, particularly those generating comments and angry face reactions; measles and vaccination. We are not all that surprised by this but what was surprising was the level of engagement on these two topics compared to the others.

Are people clicking on the angry reaction because they do not like the stance that Health Canada is taking and feel offended, or is it because people who do agree with Health Canada’s stance are angry about the situation? We do not know. However, we do know that this is generating a tremendous opportunity for discussion particularly as we see a large amount of discussion in the comments of both topics. These are obviously delicate and touchy subjects. We commend Health Canada for not shying away from such sensitive topics, as there needs to be education and discussion, and who better than Health Canada to address such issues head-on.

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This can help you better design your communication strategy and content, schedule your posts during optimal times and post with an ideal frequency. Since the analysis can be done on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, our research can help you identify where your audience is more responsive. What we have shown in this particular article is simply a few highlights of what we can uncover for one particular social network.

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Social Media Page View Shares; Canada Compared to U.S. and Global

Here are the page view shares per key social media site for June 2018 for Canada, United States and global, comparing all platforms (mobile + desktop + tablet) vs. just mobile.

Statcounter - June 2018 page view shares - Canada US Global

Social media page view shares, June 2018.  Source: StatCounter

If you are more of the visual type, the following chart might be more helpful for you.  Note that due to lack of space, I did not include all the labels in the chart below.

Statcounter - June 2018 page view shares - Canada US Global - view 2

Source: Statcounter

It appears to be safe to say that the drop in page view share for Facebook is levelling off in Canada.  The drop in Facebook page view shares is still on a slight decline in the United States, but it appears as though it will level off very soon.  As for global, it is still on a moderate decline.  Note that the world as a whole did not experience the sharp decline that both Canada and the United States suffered right after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Below, you can see the progression of social media page view shares for Canada from July 2017 to June 2018.  The first chart consists of all platforms (desktop, mobile, tablets) whereas the second chart looks at only mobile data.

Despite the huge drop in Facebook page view share, it is still a giant compared to all other social networks.  Now is not the time to stop considering Facebook as a potential medium for reaching your clients, especially if you are targeting consumers or patients.  Healthcare physicians are humans, so yes, they are also hanging out on Facebook, but there might be more efficient options to reach this audience.

The growth of Pinterest page view share seems to be levelling off as well.

 

StatCounter-social_media-CA-monthly-201707-201806StatCounter-social_media-CA-monthly-201707-201806 (1)

 

Instagram, Twitter and YouTube page view shares are all on the upswing, but since they are still relatively small players, especially when compared to Facebook and Pinterest, it is difficult to see their progress without reducing the range of the chart.  The charts below look only at Instagram, Twitter and YouTube page view shares in Canada, from July 2017 to June 2018, on all platforms and then on mobile.  Many of the clients that I speak to are surprised to see that Instagram is still a relatively small player based on this statistics, but keep in mind that page view share does not measure how often a person visits a site or how their qualitative opinion of the site.  Instagram is a player to keep an eye on, especially if you are targeting young adults.

Page view share graph - smaller networks - Canada - all platforms

Source: StatCounter

 

Page view share graph - smaller networks - Canada - mobile

Source: StatCounter

 

Below are the graphs showing the progression of social media page view shares for the United States from July 2017 to June 2018.  The pattern is similar to that of the Canadian charts, except that the drop in Facebook page view shares does not seem to have stopped quite yet.

 

 

StatCounter-social_media-US-monthly-201707-201806StatCounter-social_media-US-monthly-201707-201806 (1)

 

Below are the worldwide social media page view shares from July 2017 to June 2018, all platforms (1st chart) as well as only mobile (2nd chart).

 

StatCounter-social_media-ww-monthly-201707-201806

StatCounter-social_media-ww-monthly-201707-201806 (1)

 

 

Data source:  Statcounter

Funny Medical and Science Sites on Social Media

If you are like me and enjoy having a good laugh while sometimes learning a little something at the same time, then the following medical and science sites might give you a giggle.  You will find their social media links below so that you can easily follow them if you wish:

  1. Antibotic resistance joke

    Source: Beatrice the Biologist

    Beatrice the Biologist is one of my favorites because her comics are educational and can be used with a target audience (in my case, my children) to lead into great discussions.  Her jokes make the core message very memorable.  You can find her on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

2. The Awkward Yeti, which features, Heart and Brain, is a funny comic strip which sometimes delves into sciences.  It is meant more for leisure than education, so it is a perfect science humor site if you are looking to relax. They can be found on FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit.

3. ZDoggMD features Dr. Zubin Damania, MD.  Dr. Damania produces entertaining videos expressing his frustration with the healthcare system.  These videos would appeal to stressed out healthcare professionals and frustrated patients alike.  You can find ZDoggMD on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

4. And if you are like me and you cannot get enough of Dr. Damania’s videos, then you might also enjoy his Doc Vader persona where he shares his darker humor on FaceBook and Twitter.

5. GomerBlog is self-described as “Earth’s finest medical satire news site”.  They might be right, but you must have the right sense of humor to enjoy their content.  I’ll admit that I am a fan!  You can find them on FaceBook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram and Pinterest.

There are plenty more entertaining medical and science websites out there.  Tell us which is your favorite and we just might include it in a follow-up blog post.