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Using Social Media to Debunk Myths and Inform



Barack Obama (or as we like to call him, WOMmander in Chief) first used social media to help win an election. Now that he’s in the White House, he is using it to try to win approval for the health insurance reform. This week, Obama’s team launched the Health Insurance Reform: Reality Check Web site, which will give Americans clear answers about the reform, and what it means to them.

The front page of the media-rich site has videos of six individuals who explain different aspects of the reform. In the video below, Kavita Patel, who works in the White House and is a former physician, debunks the myth that reform will lead to “rationing.” In the video, she directly reads e-mails from individuals who are skeptical of health insurance reform, and responds with an explanation and information about what the reform plan could mean.

Each video features one individual talking in a a casual office setting. There’s no backdrop, heavy make-up or bright lights. The simplicity of these videos is a great example of how social media does not need to be scripted and excessively edited to be effective.

The site also has a FAQ section and a “contact us” button, which invites users to ask questions about health insurance reform or make suggestions on what topics should be addressed next. The initiative to educate Americans about health insurance reform is  social-media laden. When it’s combined with face-to-face interaction such as town hall meetings, it’s an exemplary model of properly executed word of mouth. As the President speaks in this afternoon’s town hall meeting, the White House is streaming video live on whitehouse.gov and on Facebook–with a live discussion to accompany it (WOM bonus points!).

The White House is doing a good job getting the message out. With more than 900,000 Twitter followers and 300,000 Facebook fans, it was exposed to more than one million viewers through those two outlets alone. Yesterday afternoon, the site was voted to Digg’s homepage and now has been “dugg” 1,425 times.

There is a lot of confusion and division on the subject of health care reform. Obama’s initiative will inform Americans about what his plan will include.  And informed people can make decisions based on the facts, not myths.

What will become of the health insurance reform is still unknown. One thing is for sure, though, the Obama Administration sure gets WOM.

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