The Impact of Social Media on Worksite Wellness

Spectrum Health Systems believes in the power of social marketing and online networking tools. Times are fast-paced and it is all the more important to stay in tune with the dynamic nature of social communication and the internet. Online health risk assessments (HRAs), wellness portals and online participant workbooks all play a role within many wellness initiatives. Wellness campaigns that leverage social media to promote camaraderie, foster communication and competition are becoming the norm. The impact of social networking on an employee wellness program is still to be determined; but the benefits are expected to be promising… especially when social media is used as a tool for accountability.

Research shows that wellness programs which incorporate a social media component decrease the likelihood of program participant drop outs. A study conducted at the University of Michigan Medical School reported that in an online community based walking program, 79 percent of participants stuck with it for the entire 16-week duration. The study then reported that only 66 percent of participants who used a version of the Internet based walking program, but without the social media components, completed the program (UMHS, 2010). These findings suggest that adding an online networking component to wellness programming is effective to decrease attrition rates.

Social networking is a key component of any worksite wellness program because it not only provides program participants a type of wellness journaling and interactive support, but utilizing online tools is also an inexpensive route to creating a healthier population. The goal of any wellness program is to reach as many people as possible to provide wellness information (i.e., nutrition and exercise tips, stress management techniques, etc.). In 2008, the American Financial Group ran a social media-based walking program and saved $9.27 in employee health care costs for every $1 spent on the program (Rafter, 2012). Typically the use of social media tools, like FaceBook and Twitter, is free. By utilizing these services or those similar to them to reach high volumes of wellness participants the results may be favorable for a small fee, if any fee at all.

There is demand for online marketing and networking in regards to wellness. People want information quickly and easily. Currently, about 79 percent of Americans use the internet (Internet Usage Statistics, 2012). While conducting any work-site wellness program it is becoming more important to provide participants the opportunity to use a social media based supportive community in conjunction with getting healthier.

At Spectrum, we are encouraged by the future outlook and power of social media to boost health and wellness efforts among worksite populations and we are tapping into the social aspect of holistic wellness. Visit us on the web or click here for a free consultation and learn how your wellness program can benefit further.

By Erin Milliken, MPH
Onsite Wellness Coordinator