Strategic uses of facebook in zika outbreak communication: Implications for the crisis and emergency risk communication model

May O. Lwin, Jiahui Lu, Anita Sheldenkar, Peter J. Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations

Abstract

While social media has been increasingly used for communication of infectious disease outbreaks, little is known about how social media can improve strategic communication across various stages of the health crisis. The Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Model (Reynolds & Seeger, 2005; CERC) outlines strategies across different crisis phases and can guide crisis communication on social media. This research therefore investigates how social media can be utilized to implement and adapt the CERC model, by examining the strategic uses of Facebook in communicating the recent Zika epidemic by health authorities in Singapore. Zika-related Facebook posts of three main Singapore health agencies published within the one year period from January 2016 to December 2016 were thematically analysed. Results suggest that Facebook was used to communicate the crisis strategically, which supported and added to the CERC model. Novel uses of Facebook for outbreak communication were demonstrated, including promoting public common responsibility for disease prevention and expressing regards to the public for cooperation. Results also suggested that preparedness messages might be the most effective, as they produced a great level of public engagement. The adaptability of the CERC model in social media contexts to improve crisis communication is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1974
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume15
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • CERC
  • Facebook
  • Outbreak communication
  • Public health
  • Social media
  • Zika
  • crisis communication

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