Brand Building

Painting the Digital Landscape Red: Leveraging Social Media to Improve Women’s Heart Health

Many of us know by now that heart disease is the number one killer of American women today. One in three female deaths will be caused by heart disease this year, more than all cancers combined. Ten years ago, this data was barely communicated, let alone spread across multiple communications channels.

In fact, awareness has spread so much about the unique aspects of women’s heart health that 34% fewer women now die from heart disease. That translates to more than 627,000 women’s lives saved.

So how did this happen?

Well, the American Heart Association (AHA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) did something really smart. They initiated very robust, creative awareness campaigns around the hidden tragedy of women’s heart disease. They wanted to target women so they took those campaigns online and into the social media realm.

Women use social media in droves and use it daily as a critical part of our ever more connected lives. More than 71% of women use social media compared with 62% of men. So the insightful marketers at AHA and NIH went exactly where their key audience reads, shares, and supports.

“Go Red for Women” is the AHA’s rally cry for women’s heart health. The NIH’s campaign is “The Heart Truth.” These women’s heart health awareness campaigns are both prominently featured on the social media platforms that are the most well suited for sharing and supporting—and those where women are the most often: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

The visual appeal, ability for rich storytelling, and ease of access to your network has had women swooning over social media for years now. And as much as we love our fashion tips, food photos, kid pics, and travel check-ins, sometimes we post things that really can change lives.

Go Red for Women cites a 23% increase in awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer of women, due in large part to all the tweets, clicks, shares, posts, and pics.

Spreading the word is a natural fit for women when they believe in something. Consider the following:

·       Women participate in 62% of sharing on Facebook

·       Pinterest has a 70% female user base

·       40 million more women than men visit Twitter every month

·       Instagram has more female photographers: 31% of women vs. 24% of men

There is significant participation in the AHA and NIH campaigns. The “Go Red” Facebook page has more than 725,000 likes; the “Heart Truth” page comes in second with 66,000 fans. Other ways women have socialized these campaigns is with photo sharing on Wear Red Day, which just passed on Friday, February 5.

Also, we share through hashtags even beyond the two campaigns themselves. Top hashtags for the month that include conversation threads around women’s heart health include #fighttheladykiller, #heartmonth, and #heartdisease.

While two of these tags don’t call out women in their titles, it’s interesting to note that the conversation around general heart disease has shifted to include women, specifically calling out the differences in managing heart health.

So what has female social conversation done beyond just making us all more aware? Well, we’ve taken some pretty big steps forward in women’s health.

Historically, women have been underrepresented in cardiology clinical studies, but the FDA now requires results reported by gender. And increased gender-based research has revealed important differences in women’s symptoms and response to medications.

So ladies (and gentlemen), keep posting! Because when it comes to women’s heart health sharing truly is caring!



American Heart Association, 2015

Pew Research Foundation, 2015

Time magazine, 2014

Netbase, 2016



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Christina Mullen
As Director of Commercial Strategy & Innovation, Christina drives strategic best practices and leads the development of innovative “big ideas” across the digital, mobile, and social marketing environment, specifically for life sciences brand teams. With more than 20 years of experience in directing both strategic planning and creative execution, she brings a unique perspective and approach to Cadient’s clientele. Prior to Cadient, Christina served as Vice President, Creative Director for Backe Digital Brand Marketing. She developed strategic initiatives and managed all creative deliverables for GSK’s oncology division. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Millersville University and several continuing education certificates including copywriting, photography and certification in reasoning and data analysis.

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