When South Jersey Mom Peggy Bradford lost 75 pounds in a year, she took to Facebook to start Steps to Good Health, a group designed to motivate other women to achieve their weight loss and fitness goals.
This week, Women's Health Magazine, in conjunction with Facebook, is seeking to harness the motivational power of social media with the launch of an online campaign timed to coincide with National Women’s Health Week (May 12-18) that urges women to live healthier.
Taking a page from Nike and other brands that use social to help users track and compare their fitness scores, Women's Health is issuing one new health challenge each day this week to readers that they can follow and report on via its dedicated Facebook page. Facebook has also joined in the effort by helping promote the campaign via its non-profit and stories pages, which together have more than a million followers.
"People think of social media to connect friends, but it is also an excellent way to keep track of your health and challenge yourself to be better. Social media is not just for spying on your boyfriend," says Carolyn Kylstra, Women's Health site director. "Our goal is to empower women to put their health first." Besides its online publication, Women's Health also has a print publication with over 1.6 million readers.
The challenges and editorial content of the campaign revolve around five health-related themes: breaking bad health habits, eating healthy/health innovators, preventative screenings, fitness trends and mental health.
Yesterday, which was also National Women's Checkup Day, readers were urged to make an appointment for a checkup, for example, and today's challenge is to find a workout buddy. Three more are to follow, and users can get more information via a series of online videos.
"Even small changes can lead to major health rewards, and there are concrete steps women can take to do that, such as cutting out junk food or saying no to soda," says Kylstra.
As an added motivation, Michelle Obama has contributed an exclusive blog post to the campaign. "There's no better day than today to start making those healthy changes. You can start small. Maybe just take a walk with a friend or your family after dinner or try a new class at the gym. Spend a few extra minutes planning healthy meals. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work," the First Lady urges. She also mentions Let's Move! Active Schools, a new program designed to allow parents, teachers and others to help get more physical education back into schools.
Other features of the campaign include a Facebook video chat hosted by U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, daily profiles of a Facebook member who has used the platform to lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle, as well as interviews with Facebook users on how they use social media to stay healthy and kick bad habits.
Facebook also got involved in the campaign by helping Women's Health uncover examples of people to interview and feature this week. "Facebook combed through thousands of pages to find amazing women who fit the Women’s Health brand and can inspire our readers," says Kylstra.
One such featured user is Cat Charrett-Dykes, a migraine sufferer from Long Island who started a Facebook page for fellow suffers that now has thousands of members. Besides sharing stories and tips, one sub-group of the page called Bomb Squad aims to help individual group members who are suffering a migraine by sending well wishes as wall posts, messages, gifts and cards. And Charrett-Dykes herself also found a doctor in Texas via the group who was able to cure her of the migraines altogether. Another sub-group provides memes and links to other members to help spread awareness about migraines. The Facebook group resulted in her starting a non-profit organization that has even spoken in front of Congress.
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
March 19, 2014