What if information about health was shared online as virally as Someecard memes or Buzzfeed lists? What if people took more time to consider news and information that could make them healthier and improve their quality of life than they took to find out how many movies from the 1980s they’ve seen? What if there was a way to breakthrough all the noise and get people to listen to information about how to improve their health, and then what if they actually took action to change their behavior?
Developing content that truly resonates with readers or viewers is a constant challenge for those of us who work in the field of health communication. It’s not that we don’t understand the power and influence of social media and its ability to help us share information. But with so much competing content, how do we come out on top? To be fair, not all content that spreads quickly through social media is silly or merely for fun. Some organizations, like Upworthy and Humans of New York have managed to build huge audiences on Facebook, with approximately 6.3 million and 5.9 million likes, respectively, and their content tends to lean toward social consciousness and stories that have real impact. But health organizations—even those with dedicated online followings—don’t have quite that same mass. For example, the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic boast 1 million and 519,000 likes on Facebook, respectively.
Understanding that people tend to engage with emotional content, Unilever, a consumer goods company known for brands such as Dove, Pond’s, and Vaseline, recently announced that it has partnered with viral content site Upworthy for Project Sunlight. Project Sunlight is a consumer-facing brand campaign aimed at motivating people to live more sustainable lifestyles. Of the partnership, Marc Mathieu senior vice president of marketing at Unilever told MarketingWeek that “the overarching idea of worthiness is the very mechanic it is built on…their [Upworthy’s] interests are the same as ours: the fundamental objective is worthiness.”
Project Sunlight is founded on the premise that “there has never been a better time to create a better future for our children; a world where everyone has enough food to eat and no child goes to bed hungry.” This is definitely a “shareable” notion, and it definitely fits with the tone that is familiar to most Upworthy posts. It will be interesting to see if Upworthy’s ability to drive people to share its content will translate on Unilever’s health and wellness platform. I really hope it does. Health is a deeply personal issue, and for many it is emotional, making a connection to it more likely (and without a connection to the content, your readers are unlikely to share). But it can also be sad and scary, and far too many people choose to turn the other way regarding health information (smoking and tanning come to mind) when it doesn’t suit what they want to be the truth.
Take some time to check out Project Sunlight, and if you’re so inclined, engage in your own “act of sunlight.” Also, if you are so inclined, share this news!