Can social media sites help fight breast cancer?

My good Twitter friend, Peg Mulligan, who is responsible for opening my eyes to a whole new world of social media, was recently interviewed for a health.com article on the role of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook in the fight against breast cancer.

The sites may be used as a successful fundraising tool as evidenced by Laurie Brosius, who used Twitter to raise $6,000 for a walk for breast cancer research in 2008. “Fifty percent of that came from online strangers,” she says. She was able to reach those people in part because her Twitter followers re-tweeted her messages.

Brosius makes a key point when she says that breast cancer organizations’ websites are great places to donate, but they only reach a specific crowd—those already interested in the topic.

“[Social media sites] are reaching people who might not be specifically looking for that kind of information,” she explains. “They’re reaching everyone.”

I believe that this power to spread the message via retweets, even to those not actively looking for breast cancer information, is the key to the success of social media awareness raising and support. It also gives you a great opportunity to connect with and target like-minded individuals, but in a much more subtle way.  Twitter is a “gentler way of reaching people” because it indirectly grabs users’ attention in a stream of other topics”, believes Peg Mulligan.

For me personally, joining Twitter has given me a whole new audience for my blog. It has enabled me to connect with so many others who have enriched both my learning and healing journey. Instead of having to trawl through numerous breast cancer websites each day, I can get an overview of what’s new and the latest research at a glance on Twitter. I then follow up the stories that interest me and retweet those that I think will interest others, thus widening the net of knowledge. 

I learn something new every day on Twitter. I also use Facebook, but more as a way of connecting and keeping in touch with friends and family. In that way, I differentiate between the two media – for me, Facebook is for my personal connections, and Twitter for my professional life. I tend to keep the two quite separate. This isn’t the case for everyone, but it works for me. The only downside to Twitter, is that it is so addictive…but that’s a whole other story….

Read Peg Mulligan’s Social Media For Good post here

Related Post: Help! I’m addicted to Twitter