CDC Social Media Tools, Guidelines & Best Practices

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Primary Target Country United States of America
Publishing Organisation Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Language English
Year Published 2019
Target Audience Civil Society, Practitioners
Status Published
Disaster Management Phase Before
Covers Thematic Content creation, Social Media Strategy, Technologies
Audience Experience Level Advanced, Intermediate
Source Website

The Importance of Plain Language

  • Quickly engage the reader
  • Limit use of jargon, technical, or scientific language
  • Write in active voice
  • Keep messages short.
  • Write in a friendly but professional tone
  • Choose words with one definition or connotation
  • Use measurements that are familiar to your audience
  • Choose familiar terms, and use them consistently
  • Use acronyms with caution
  • Use numbers when they help you make your point
  • Consider using alternatives to words expressing mathematical concepts, such as risk, normal, and range, if those words do not have meaning to your audience

Guidelines for incorporating social marketing into your communications

Social marketing is about identifying the specific target audience segment(s), describing the benefits, and creating interventions that will influence or support the desired behavior change.

  • Highlight the positive aspects of your message
  • Answer the audience’s question, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Respect your audience.
  • Encourage your readers to take a particular action or to learn more.
  • Tie messages to specific products or services when possible

Creating Content

Social media content should be

  • Relevant, useful and interesting
  • Easy to understand and share
  • Friendly, conversational, and engaging - Action-oriented


  • Buttons and Badges
    • Buttons are graphic elements that usually include an image, a short call-to-action message, and a link for more information. They are often created to be shared, and include HTML code that allows them to be posted on a website.
    • Badges are also small graphic images that include a message and link to a web page. However, badges are often posted on an individual's social network profile or personal blog to show support for or affiliation with a cause or issue, and may include messages that show a personal action was taken
  • Image Sharing

Image sharing involves posting images (photos, artwork, etc.) to public websites where they can be viewed, tagged, categorized, and even used by others

  • RSS Feeds

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. RSS feeds provide an easy way to stay updated on information that is important to you and helps reduce the time it takes to browse or search for new information on web sites. RSS feeds provide updated news headlines, blog posts or selected website content.

  • Podcasts

A podcast is a digital audio or video file that can be saved for playback on a portable media device or computer. The term “podcast” refers to both the actual content of the media file and the method by which the content is syndicated.

  • Online Video Sharing

Online video sharing can be used by partners to share tailored health communication messages. Online video sites, such as YouTube, MSN and Yahoo have emerged as popular and powerful video sharing sites

  • Widgets

A widget is an application that can be utilized by partners to display featured health content directly on their desktop, website or social media site. Widgets can also generally be shared with friends

  • eCards

are electronic greeting cards that are sent to people’s email accounts

  • Blogs

Blogs, or web logs, are regularly updated online journals that almost anyone with an internet connection can use. Some blogs target a small audience, while others boast a readership comparable to national newspapers. They may have only one author or a team of regular authors, but most blogs share a similar format in that the entries are posted in a reverse chronological order and may allow readers to comment on posts

  • Microblogs

Twitter is an example of a microblog. Twitter is an information network made up of 140-character messages called tweets. It is used by millions of people, organizations, and businesses to discover and share new information. Twitter users subscribe to receive tweets by following an account. Followers receive messages in their timeline that includes a feed of all the accounts they have subscribed to. These short, easy to read, public messages make Twitter a powerful, real-time way of communicating

  • Social Networking Site

Facebook an example of a social networking site. These are online communities where people can interact with friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, and others with similar interests. Most social networking sites provide multiple ways for their users to interact such as chat, email, video, voice chat, file-sharing, blogging, and discussion groups.

Please note: Access to the following links is currently only available for project partners

Glossary: Social Media Tool kit

Comprehensive description of Social Media toolkits

Key facts to consider when writing for Social Media

Comprehensive advice to consider when writing for Social Media

Social Media Evaluation Worksheet

Is Archived No
Covers platforms Facebook, Twitter

A set of 6 documents results in a comprehensive guideline for the use of social media in emergencies. Using best practice examples (Facebook ( and Twitter ( ), the difference between good and bad publications in social media is shown.