Disseminating Knowledge for Health on a Micro-Targeted Level

As emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs) diffuse throughout the world, the transference of knowledge, ideas and perspectives has become more seamless, instant and affordable. On the same token, however, the ability to reach the right audiences amidst all the noise is becoming more difficult.

ICTs have democratized publishing, allowing organizations, large and small, to sidestep traditional media outlets and step onto their own digital soapboxes and broadcast their perspectives, knowledge and news in real-time. While empowering, the ease and affordability of publishing have also increased the amount of available content exponentially. Audiences are now inundated with volumes of information and messaging of varied quality, which can lead to information overload.

This presents challenges for content-rich organizations tasked not only to manage and organize knowledge, but also to disseminate it to the people who need and want it the most. It’s no longer effective to merely push out press releases or shoot out newsletters and hope that somebody is listening. To break through all the noise and be heard nowadays, organizations need to be strategic, and balance traditional communication approaches with emerging channels – pretty simple assertions, but something K4Health is taking very seriously.

Although K4Health is relatively young (we launched in October 2009), we’ve been looking beyond the usual suspects – including relevant listservs, email blasts to partners and in-country offices, and the occasional press release – to disseminate our content and have begun mining the Internet looking for communities and people who we believe will be interested in what we have to say and offer. After we identify relevant communities, we begin participating in the conversations, engaging and sharing our content in hopes to bring real value – a significant investment of time, but something that is teaching us the necessary skills to navigate the murky waters of social media and the real-time Web.

So far, our efforts have produced significant and interesting results. Yes, more people are visiting the portal, but those referred from our social media initiatives are staying two- to three-times longer and viewing many more pages, compared with those referred from email blasts, etc. We’re also making connections with other organizations we never thought possible, and it’s only been about three months.

We’re under no illusions of grandeur and understand that social media and, more generally, the Internet are not the be-all and end-all. As a global project focusing on family planning, reproductive health and other health topics, we need to balance the potential of digital technology with the real experiences on the ground and at the front lines. Although the strategies and tactics to promote and disseminate our products and services will differ based on the needs, infrstructure and desired communicaiton channels, we're confident that the skills we learn today to engage and participate online will be invaluable tomorrow.

With that said, we are very excited about what, and who, we can find in the nooks and crannies of the Internet. If nothing else, we’ve been able to disseminate the knowledge we’ve made easy to find and use to those who want it most (at least online), and making some friends along the way.

Chris Rottler, Senior Communication Manager

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