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Universities use social media to get flu and handwashing messages to students

An interesting article on how colleges and universities are using traditional media in combination with social media to get out H1N1/swine flu prevention tips to their student commuities.

"Most cases of that strain (sometimes called “swine flu”) have been mild to moderate so far, but with so many students in close quarters, university communicators have their hands full trying to get messages about prevention guidelines—and, soon, about vaccines—out to everyone.

Absolute saturation is key, communicators say. Not every student reads official university e-mails, picks up the school newspaper, or pays attention to signs around campus. For some schools, such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, tried-and-true methods get the message out. For others, like Loyola University Chicago, technology and social media have taken the reins.

With a Twitter feed and more than 30 TV screens around campus, bite-size prevention messages can be repeated easily and often—hand-washing is the No. 1 way to prevent illness, says Diane Asaro, director of Loyola University Chicago's Wellness Center, so it’s important to repeat it. The blog can offer more detail: One recent post explained how to wash hands effectively.

With the potential for the pandemic message to change rapidly, Asaro says these avenues are easier to use than posters, which are hard to take back. For example, the CDC recently started recommending that people get a seasonal flu shot, a message that was quickly added to Loyola’s digital communications."

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