A lifeline during the pandemic: Unlocking the power of social media

PublishedFebruary 22, 2023

The COVID-19 health crisis impacted everyone, often leaving us all feeling isolated and uncertain. But we weren't alone: Thanks to the power of social media, we connected in new and profound ways; those with a digital platform rallied to keep us informed and safe, proving that even in times of crisis, we can find hope and unity through the power of community.

The pandemic hit us all in different ways, disrupting our daily routines and leaving us searching for answers. Thankfully, social media became a source of information and guidance, connecting us with global influencers, community activists and scientific specialists, who shared the latest updates and helped to make sense of what was happening. These COVID-19 influencers used their platforms to share best practices and relay the latest changes surrounding the pandemic, building on efforts by health authorities and governments to keep us well informed and protected.

We are thrilled to share a handful of the sincere anecdotes already told by people all around the world as they nominate COVID-19 influencers for the UniteHealth Social Media Awards. These excerpts are taken from anonymous endorsements. They recap the reasons they have nominated certain people, and they also serve as a window on how important sharing on social media was during the pandemic.

We hope you find them as encouraging and inspirational as we do.

Photo credit: @Unsplash

Mobilizing people to take action

Snippet #1: “When COVID-19-related lockdown got clamped in India, defying police, he mobilised several like-minded young people using social media platforms to unite and open community kitchens. He continued to do this on major highway crossings of Lucknow, India, even now. Connecting grassroots actions such as managing community kitchens and using social media platforms, including WhatsApp and others, was indeed commendable.”

Snippet #2: “She mobilised health science journalists across the country to stay up-to-date and share knowledge and information during the pandemic using WhatsApp groups as well as her Twitter and reporting. As COVID science was evolving, she played an important role in helping to collectively analyse what we could do to push for science and evidence-based policies and practices.”

Persistence in the face of challenges

Snippet #3: “He hosted daily YouTube sessions whilst in his clinic doing hospital work for specific audiences. One session was open to all but primarily aimed at doctors and scientists to discuss COVID clinical management, share scientific studies of interest and discuss, etc - as well as cases they were finding difficult to manage and seek multi-speciality opinion. Another session was for those who were either presumptive cases of COVID or were diagnosed and dealing with it – and had queries. He was a tireless crusader and to keep his legacy alive, volunteers continue to run his channel even after 1.5 years of his passing away with the tag line 'show must go on.'”

Snippet #4: “The medical reporter that other medical reporters follow, she responds to questions and stays on top of everything that needs to be addressed, or is being addressed around COVID-19. She was on it late 2019 before anyone else was on the start of the pandemic in the media. Her intuition that this could be a pandemic virus – she published [it] 10 January 2020. She publishes her own articles and those of her colleagues, keeping 'us' informed who follow her. She is a digger and a gem.”

Using expertise to drive change

Snippet #5: “Outstanding extensive and thorough Twitter threads sharing his expertise on how to use engineering principles to keep safe in an airborne pandemic (useful beyond COVID as well). Has made himself accessible to public to answer questions on [improving] indoor air quality via ventilation, hepa filtration and upper room ultraviolet. Dedicated to sharing expertise re. improving indoor air quality in schools and leading a new OSPE Air Quality Advisory Group that has created Canadian standards to provide guidance on indoor air quality for industry, government and civil society. I'm sure I've missed something and hope I got that all correct! Been a huge help!”

Snippet #6: “Fought for the protections of essential workers and people who were experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.  Ran a vaccine program to vaccinate homeless people.  Brought to light the importance of in-person learning for children, as well as the failure of leaders to protect the most vulnerable in society.”

Photo credit: @Unsplash

If a social media user in your country helped you  make sense of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can nominate them now! https://socmedawards.com/2023/

This forms part of a short series of posts focusing on the linkages between the use of social media, the COVID-19 pandemic, and health promotion.

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