a group of 3 people on social media sites, with social icons above their heads

Social Media in Well-Being Programs — What’s Not to Like?

If you use a social media platform in your work, you may underestimate — and underuse — its power. This is true for public websites like Facebook®, Instagram®, or Twitter; in-house collaboration platforms like Yammer® (a Microsoft® product) or Chatter® (a Salesforce service); or the social features of well-being products — including HES challenges and several wellness portals.

Practitioners often think of social media platforms as being like bulletin boards, posting program announcements and never giving them another thought. But we’d be lucky if a post — used like this — drew the fleeting attention of a few people who happen upon it.

Most social platforms have at least 3 ways users can interact with a post.

  • “Like” a post — that is, endorse it by clicking on the word “like” or “favorite” or on a heart, star, or thumbs-up icon
  • Comment or reply in response to a post
  • Reshare a post, distributing it to their own connections on the platform.

Regardless of your social platform, try to get as many people as possible to engage in these activities.

Optimize Your Social Posts

I managed the employee well-being program for a large organization whose in-house social platform functioned a lot like Facebook or LinkedIn®. Here’s an example of how I optimized a post, followed by a deeper dive into an elementary tactic.

We had recently installed our first treadmill workstation and wanted employees to know about it. I could have just posted New Treadmill Workstation with a few details, which may have popped up in the newsfeeds of my online connections. But a dry informational post would soon be forgotten by the few employees who saw it. Instead, I used 5 simple social tactics:

  1. Posted a few sentences with a header, “Get steps at your desk!” which personalized an action-oriented message and tied it to the step challenge we were launching.
  2. Included a photo of an employee — my coworker, Judith — using the treadmill workstation. Social media experts have determined that using an image increases engagement on a post by 650%.1
  3. Tagged Judith — mentioning her with a link to her profile. This assured the post made it into the feeds of Judith’s connections; it sparked conversation online and off.
  4. Noted that typing speed and accuracy tend to be normal after 3 15-minute sessions using the treadmill workstation. By answering an inevitable question, I delivered meaningful content — essential to social media strategy.
  5. Asked my connections on the platform to click “like.”

This last tactic may be the most important. A marketing industry analysis showed that including the word “like” in a post more than doubles the odds of it being liked. 2

But I didn’t just say, “Like this post,” which may have been perceived as manipulative. Instead, I concluded the post with an almost irresistible call to action: “Click ‘like’ if you think you’d enjoy more physical activity during the workday.”

On our platform, most posts averaged 4-5 likes. My treadmill workstation post received 528, with each spreading the word and keeping the message fresh in employees’ newsfeeds on the platform. It also evoked a screen full of enthusiastic comments. I replied to (and/or liked) every one, to personalize the dialog, draw deeper engagement, and keep the topic prominent in users’ feeds in days following the initial post. In the final analysis, the post was viewed by more than 10 times the average.

Learn whatever you can about the rules regulating use of your platform. When in doubt, contact a site administrator.

Rudimentary as likes may be, a fuller understanding of how and why to elicit them can inspire you to customize a variety of increasingly sophisticated optimization tactics.

Why We Like Likes

We’ve all heard stories of social media users staking their self-esteem to the number of likes their posts accrue. Well-being practitioners have a more noble motive. Engagement with a program’s social media posts is engagement in the program, and social sharing is a uniquely effective means to spread your message.

If you examine your feed on almost any major platform, you’ll notice a few different triggers that lead to specific posts being displayed. Depending on the system, you’re likely to view content that:

  • Your connections have personally posted
  • You or a connection has been tagged or mentioned in
  • Your connections have liked, reshared, or commented on.

Imagine, for example, wellness coordinator Susan has 15 connections — including her coworker, James — on a social media platform. James is a more active user and has 800 connections. When Susan posts an announcement, it may find its way into the newsfeed of only her 15 connections. But after James likes it, the post may be displayed to his 800 connections, who will read something like “James liked Susan’s post ‘New Walking Group,’” above Susan’s post about the group she’s starting.

If Susan’s connections average 500 connections each, and 10 of them click like, Susan’s post could be distributed to 5000 people plus those they share it with. Susan could spread the word even faster if she expanded her own pool of personal connections on the platform.

Earning likes to facilitate social sharing is the most basic example of optimizing these platforms. More can be done with special interest groups, comments, multimedia sharing, contests, live streaming, thoughtful timing, hashtags, and polls. Further, the value derived from social platforms can evolve beyond program promotion to functions like participant support, education, and culture building.

The essential first step to garnering results: Recognize that a social posting isn’t like a flyer tacked on a crowded bulletin board. It’s more like a current, spreading across a multidimensional network.

Pop-up graphic of social media comments, likes, and friend requests


1 Kim, L. (2015) Eye-Popping Statistics You Need to Know About Visual Content Marketing, inc.com
2 Zarrella, D. (2017) New Facebook Data Proves Social CTAs Lead to More Comments, Likes & Shares, blog.hubspot.com



Bob MerbergBob Merberg
Bob Merberg is an independent consultant with 20+ years in managing employee well-being programs. He specializes in helping employers increase engagement and health outcomes through innovative programs, communication, workplace environment, and organization development strategies. Bob’s well-being program evaluation results have been featured at wellness conferences and in various media outlets.