Social Media: Who’s Doing it Right?

For this assignment I decided to look at Ottawa Public Health’s use of Social Media. They are present on the following platforms:

Organizational Mission

Their webpage has the following mission statement:


Ottawa Public Health (OPH) provides public health programs and services to individuals and communities while advocating for public policies that make our city and its residents healthier. OPH is a teaching health unit and works with all post secondary educational institutions in the area.


The website also has a page dedicated to describing its social media protocol. In addition to outlining expected behaviours it also provides this information:


Are you looking for reliable local health information? Do you have questions or comments? Connect with the City of Ottawa’s official source for health information.

If you follow us, you can expect content related to:
Ottawa Public Health awareness campaigns, programs and health promotion;
Newsworthy events involving public health organizations and health initiatives; and
Timely notifications that affect residents and partner/stakeholder organizations.


Target Audience

Given this mandate they have a very large target audience: anyone living in the Ottawa area. Looking through their various platforms I can see that they are targeting the following groups in particular:

  • Families
  • Seniors
  • Sexually active
  • New comers to Canada
  • Minority groups

Organizational Goals

Any good Social Media Strategy begin with the organizational goals. In this case Ottawa Public Health’s organizational goals would be related to the following:

  • Providing a broad range of health services to people living Ottawa
  • Providing education and advocacy on a broad range of health related topics
  • Advocating for public policies that support healthy communities

Strategic Marketing Objectives

I think that the following would be appropriate Marketing Objectives:

  • Increase Reach
  • Increase Credibility
  • Maintain Visibility
  • Develop Stronger Relationships With Customers

Social Media Objectives

In the case of Ottawa Public Health Social Media Objectives might be to:

  • Build an online community of your target market
  • Increase conversions from visitors to participants
  • Demonstrate thought leadership
  • Become a media resource
  • Increase online visibility

What Are They Doing Well?

 Content Creation

This is an example of an original Tweet created by Ottawa Public Health to educate it’s audience about how to protect themselves from West Nile virus. It has a simple message, uses #hashtags effectively, an eye catching image and a link back to it’s main web page where readers can find out more.

OPH Tweet

You can see how Ottawa Public Health uses various platforms differently. In this example it put the same post about West Nile on both Twitter and Facebook. Someone asked a question on the Facebook post about Lyme Disease, and OPH followed up with more information and a link to their page on Lyme Disease.

OPH Facebook Post
OPH Facebook Post

Again, you can see here how OPH is changing how it uses different social media platforms to reflect the kind of content, and also the expected audience. Their Instagram account uses a combination of infographics with text and #hashtags. This platform also has many more images of OPH workers at events throughout the city, creating a more friendly and welcoming vibe for readers.

OPH Instagram

OPH Instagram post part 2

Content Curation

Their feeds on each of the platforms contain a good balance of original created content (with the purpose of providing information, and also sometimes pointing back to its own webpage, or promoting services it offers), curated posts that point to other relevant service providers, retweets and posts from other organizations, and finally event retweets of retweets.

Here is an example of another tweet, this time pointing to information from another organization.

OPH Tweet

Creating Tone and Using Humour

Another strength in how Ottawa Public Health uses social media is their distinct sense of humour. Here is another example from their Instagram account. Users on this platform tent to be younger and will find the simple, not preachy message of this joke funny.

OPH Instagram

After having looked at how Ottawa Public Health uses its various platforms and the kind of original and curated content it uses I think I have a much better sense of how I could manage content for my own business. I am looking forward to reading about other organizations that use social medial well on everyone’s blogs.

Social Media Content: Creating, Curating and Collaborating

socail media stats

As the infographic shows there are * a lot * of people using social media platforms. Clearly, social media platforms can be a powerful platform for marketers to reach their audience.  But what kind of content should marketers be posting on their platforms?  

Before we think about what we want to post, we should think about what users want to see. Nancy Smith suggests that people use social media to be:

  • Connected to family and friends
  • Informed
  • Entertained 

There are three different kinds of content that can inform and entertain:

Original content that you CREATE.

Try to think broadly here.  Of course you will want to post content that informs readers about the business, product or service that your are marketing.  But readers will soon get tired if all you ever post are promotional materials. So try to think broadly here. What kinds of other things might your customers be interested in?  If you run a bridal shop maybe they are also interested in make-up trends, how to buy your first house, and articles about maintaining healthy relationships.  

When you are creating new content it is important that you understand your audience and what tone they will want.  For the bridal shop your customers may want a tone that reflects the specialness of the event, romance, high pressure and even how expensive weddings can be.

Ottawa Public Health has found an excellent balance between sharing important information and humour:

ottawa health

Content you create should also always have a Call to Action.  This can be as simple as a link to your home website, an Order Now button.  See this article for examples of highly effective Call to Action buttons you could use in your own posts.  

Don’t forget that social media can be a powerful tool for providing customer service. For example, Xbox has a dedicated social media handle @xboxsupport dedicated entirely to answering customer questions.  


If you are using your social media platform to interact with your clients it is important to ensure that you monitor the platform regularly and respond promptly. Nothing is worse to a customer than making a complaint and then not hearing back. Downy has some good examples of how to interact with your customers:

This may all sound like a lot of work to create this much content, but fear not because you don’t have to do all the work. 

Content you CURATE for your audience. 

This means reposting, linking, tagging, and liking content already on the web. If you run a daycare you could share information from the local health authority, a blog with kid-friendly lunch menus, and safety recalls on children’s items.  

When you are curing content from other sites it is important that you have carefully vetted the site before you re-share.  Make sure the site shares your values and conforms to your branding policies. You should also think carefully about what to re-share on each platform you use. Instagram is not the right place to share links to YouTube videos! 

Here are two examples of content curated by Ottawa Public Health.  You will notice that the first one is a retweet of a post TBay Public Health made linking to Ottawa Public Health.


Finally COLLABORATE to create new content.

Are there similar businesses or organizations that you could work with to create new content?  Or, what about soliciting user generated content? Sharpie’s social media strategy is an excellent example of this.  A significant part of their twitter feed are retweets of posts customers have made using their product. For example, here is a compliment on artwork made using Sharpies:


George Couros is very good at engaging his audience with simple requests for participation like this one below – you can see he already has 391 comments!


If you do this, make sure you think very carefully about how requests of user participation might go wrong, and how you can limit your risk.

This video created by American Bridge 21st Century using generic video released by a group supporting Senator Susan Collins, hoping it would be used by other PACs to create more promotional materials.  Unfortunately for them, it didn’t quite work out that way!

The last thing to think about is how much of each kind of content you should be posting.  Hootsuite suggests the following:

  • ⅓ share posts to promote your business, convert readers, and generate profits
  • ⅓ share posts of ideas from influencers in your industry (or like-minded businesses)
  • ⅓ share posts of personal stories to build your brand

While the 411 model also seems to be popular:

4-1-1 is a simple rule of thumb that divides the information you share into three types:

  • 4 pieces of curated content, shared from external sources
  • 1 piece of original content, produced by you
  • 1 piece of promotional content, aimed at making sales

Whatever you decide it is important you have thought about it, and try to remain consistent so that followers know what to expect. 

There is so much to think about when planning social media content strategies its easy to get overwhelmed, but don’t forget to have fun! 

What do you think are the most important things to think about when planning social media content?  Share your thoughts in the comments below, or Tweet them to @KirstenTB #BMC312