Many people have a social media profile and just about everyone has a mobile phone in their pocket and it is a unique opportunity to change the way we communicate about health and safety.
The web is now the primary search tool used by people seeking out the information they need, whether that be occupational safety and health (OSH) guidance or details of safety-related products and services. So how can government agencies, commercial and non-commercial organisations and individuals use social media to effectively communicate their health and safety messages?
The social web
Fundamentally, social media represents a wonderful opportunity for much improved communications in the field of health and safety. As more people and organisations get involved in social media the opportunity for sharing information and actively engaging increases. Yes, some social media platforms have come and gone, but there is a solid group of evergreens that offer the opportunity for effective communications on the web.
Having an active presence on social media makes you, and your information, easier to find. People have a tendency to share useful information, and on the web this means link-sharing on social media. Web content and social media are really part and parcel of the same thing, and the key to using social media effectively is to make your information available online, and then to share it on the social media platforms. Simple!
The benefits of social media in OSH
As a media partner of the European Agency for Safety and Health at work (EU-OSHA), I see first-hand the power of social media to disseminate occupational safety and health information to people in all walks of life. The agency engages on the main social platforms and this, combined with the work of the agency’s media partners, means that important health and safety messages are quickly and effectively communicated.
Social media can transform engagement with priority groups, for example young workers. Young people are familiar with the social web and are likely to be active social media users. Due to the wide uptake of social media it is also an effective way to reach those in the high-risk sectors and to help highlight and share practical solutions to the risks that workers face.
Engagement is crucial in health and safety, and social media represents a wonderful opportunity to be responsive. Organisations can benefit from being more accessible, and safety-related information is more likely to be acted upon if dialogue is available. If one adds mobile apps to the equation then the opportunities for information sharing and staying in touch are multiplied. There is a real opportunity here to make OSH information available at the point of need.
Commercial benefits of social media
For commercial organisations in the health and safety sector, the opportunities for lead generation are significant. Workers and professional buyers alike use search engines to find information and will follow links to useful content. Content pages can act as a gateway to the commercial part of a website. The massive reach of social media, all the way from local to global, and the fact that social media is ‘always on’ means that the medium should now be an integral part of every company’s marketing strategy.
In terms of brand awareness, the sharing of useful content on the social web can only enhance the reputation of an organisation. New web visitors are more likely, as are repeat visits. People landing on a site full of helpful content will tend to spend more time there. White papers, case studies and interesting stories can all encourage people to take safety more seriously and to share the information. Positive social signals also matter in search engine results, and to be rewarded in search results your web content must be useful and widely shared on social media.
Make a positive impact
Social media offers the potential to make a positive impact on the wellbeing of people, to improve your own organisation’s OSH performance and to increase awareness of your commercial safety offer. It has the power to engage people and to change the health and safety landscape for the good, so why not start sharing your useful OSH content on social media? You just might make a difference.
James Twigg is the owner of PPE.org
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