How disease awareness campaigns promote positive conversations

By: Ryan Ponton, imre health analyst

Every year on October 10, World Mental Health Day is celebrated to raise awareness about mental health and support those affected by mental illnesses. By using the social listening tool Infegy, we were able to take a closer look into how people are talking about World Mental Health Awareness Day.

This year, World Mental Health Day quickly became a trending topic across social media, with many people and brands sharing information and personal experiences related to mental health. On October 10, 2017 alone, the topic of mental health generated more than 579k mentions on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (118% more mentions than the average day) with an average of 4.8 posts related to mental health posted every second.

Although a high volume of conversations can be enough evidence to conclude World Mental Health Day 2017 successfully raised awareness about mental health, we conducted a deeper analysis to determine how people reacted to the trending topic, and how it can improve next year.

World Mental Health Day encouraged positive conversations on social media

One of the biggest successes of World Mental Health Day 2017 is that it was able to shift conversations about Mental Health from mostly negative to mostly positive. A scan of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts that mention mental health from January 2017 – September 2017 shows that the majority of posts are negative (52% negative, 40% positive, 8% neutral).

On World Mental Health Day, we saw the sentiment of posts shifted to mostly positive (51% positive, 41% negative, 8% neutral). Overall, this shows that World Mental Health Day caused people to have positive conversations about a subject that is otherwise discussed in mostly negative ways.

When joining a conversation for disease awareness, such as World Mental Health Day, brands should consider the sentiment of their message. Although on a normal day, conversations may have a negative tone, on days dedicated to raising awareness about a disease/illness, people expect brands to have positive and optimistic conversations about the disease/illness. It is up to brands to identify these positive conversations and use them to engage with audiences.


Challenge for World Mental Health Day 2018—Engage more men

World Mental Health Day has successfully gained mass attention throughout the world on social media, but a gender gap exists in the engagement.

When conducting research, we found that only 34% of all World Mental Health Day posts on social media came from men. This finding does not come as a surprise as research shows men are less likely than women to openly talk about their mental health. When planning for World Mental Health Day 2018, brands should challenge themselves to find ways to get more men to openly talk about mental health.

Make mental health awareness live beyond a day

Topics like mental health are able to stand out in the spotlight on their designated day, but conversations related to the topic will likely see a drastic decrease after 24 hours (last year mentions of mental health on social media dropped 76% the day after World Mental Health Day).

To continue to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, brands should use World Mental Health Day as an opportunity to listen to what people are saying about mental health. By conducting a qualitative analysis of what people posted during World Mental Health Day 2017, brands will be provided with insights that can fuel content and continue to engage audiences for the remainder of the year.

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