Social Media for Health and Development

Protesters wave a Egyptian flag as the activities during the Egyptian Revolution are captured on a tablet computer.

Social media is a growing and changing communication tool, underutilized within the global health and development sector. In settings with minimal human and financial resources, social media gives implementers the ability to reach a large number of people over a broad geographic area. It allows the user to share information through multiple channels, easily reaching and engaging diverse audiences.

In resource-limited settings, bandwidth is increasing and internet access is becoming more widely available, especially through mobile devices. Globally, nearly 1.75 billion, or roughly one in four, people are social media users. Therefore, the pool of potential reach is extremely large, and users have the ability to really engage on a meaningful level. On the other hand, traditional media is often costly, has limited reach, is extremely time-consuming, and is often based on one-way communication. 

This introductory course on social media will strengthen the capacity of global health and development professionals interested in understanding basic principles of social media, using social media to disseminate global health and development information, and measuring social media activities.


Upon the completion of this course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Define the common principles of social media
  • Identify ways in which social media can be (and is currently) used in global health and development
  • Describe some of the features and functionalities of the most popular social media platforms
  • Understand how to create professional social media accounts
  • Learn how to write and synthesize content to fit different social media platforms
  • Recall the steps involved in developing a social media strategy and linking it to programmatic goals and budget
  • Identify different social media strategies for increasing followers and engaging health and development agencies


The authors are very grateful to the reviewers who provided their insights and suggestions: Jim Shelton and Margaret D'Adamo at USAID, Laurie Liskin and Erica Nybro at The DHS Program/CCP, Sarah Balian at ICF International/The DHS Program, Mariam Bhacker at Inís Communication, and Sara Mazursky at CCP. 


  • 2 hours


  • Thursday, November 12, 2015

Course Authors: 

  • Rebecca Shore, CCP

  • Sally Zweimueller, The DHS Program/ICF International

Course Managers: 

  • Amy Lee, CCP