Using social media to get people with long-term conditions more active

By Su-Lin Allen, Senior Digital Media Officer at The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy @Su_LinAllen


AnnetteThe Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s ‘Love Activity, Hate Exercise?’ campaign addresses the emotional and physical barriers people aged 40-70 years old living with a long-term conditions face in being more physically active.

It was developed through a series of focus groups and research with patients and physiotherapists, after research from the CSP found that more than 30% of these people are completely inactive each week.

We did not have the budget of a This Girl Can or a Stoptober, so social and digital media played a prominent role in our planning and delivery.

But while this was largely through necessity, we also knew that targeted content on platforms where patients and the public already were would give us a good chance of reaching our audience.

Additionally, we found that creating content that could then be used across other channels – print, for example – gave us good value for money.

Here are the main social media takeaways from year one of the campaign.


Power of patient stories

We chose to harness the power of personal stories to inspire people to become active by sharing the barriers a number of patients living with a wide range of chronic conditions had overcome to become active.

We profiled these case-studies on our website and posted images of them with powerful and emotive quotes on our social media channels.

The research from our focus groups told us that many people were worried that exercising would worsen their symptoms or that they simply wouldn’t be able to do it. We wanted these stories to motivate people in similar positions to feel empowered and able to overcome their own personal barriers.

Findings from our case studies highlight the potential of social media as a means for generating behaviour change as they generated a number of click-throughs to our website and engagement in the form of positive comments, shares and likes.

In addition to sharing the case-study stories on our website and social channels, they also helped us to secure a national online feature and broadcast news package enabling us to spread our campaign message even wider.


Video content still top


Click on the image above to view the video


It all started with an ice bucket challenge. The huge success and of which in 2014 was partly thanks to Facebook’s algorithm, which started to prioritise video content.

The following years saw a deluge of video content on social media, with individuals sharing their own mobile-shot videos and marketeers investing more in video output.

In planning for Love activity, Hate exercise? we too wanted our message widely shared digitally and reaching patients on waiting room screens, so we commissioned a suite of animations for our target audiences; physiotherapists and healthcare professionals and the public.

We found that animation as a medium works well for promotion healthcare messages, being more universal in appeal while creating visuals that are simple, bold and engaging.

Our previous back pain and falls prevention animations also proved hugely successful on and offline. We had so many requests to include animations on waiting room screens that we knew this was another key channel to reach patients and valuable resource for our members.


Empowering healthcare professionals to create change


Click on the image above to view the video

‘As the expert you have so much potential to motivate change’

This was the call out to our members in our Power of a conversation launch video. Our members are key to helping us spread the word, so it was important that they felt empowered to initiate difficult conversations with patients.

By involving our members and learning from previous Workout @ Work campaigns, we were able to shape a campaign that would provide the tools they need to inspire patients.

It was fantastic to see over 2,000 members sign up for the campaign – creating a community ready to help amplify the message. We could then develop digital messages to share on our social media channels and saw a high level of each time shared these.

Our physio community started to share photos of activities they love using the campaign hashtag #LoveActivity. This showed they embraced leading by example, and it also created competitiveness among the physios.

We were able to capitalise on this activity by asking for physios to take the next step and film short ‘get inspired’ videos.


Click on the image above to view the video


Working with the wider community

As a health community, we want to see improved activity levels and health for all. The campaign provided us with the opportunity to show how physio expertise could help our target audience.

We knew our target audience had very specific barriers to overcome to get active, so we harnessed the expertise of specialist physiotherapists to produce a set of resources for at patients.

Our Being active with a long-term condition series created a suite of resources which also allowed us to link up with patient organisations to cross promote our resources, helping to get the message out.

Additionally, we were able to link with CCGs to help spread campaign messages. We teamed up with Hull Kingston Rovers through the CCG. They were keen to spread the Love activity messaging by showing our animation on their big screens during a match.

The Love activity, Hate exercise? campaign reinforced to me the power of our community to work together to get public health messages out there.

Every person can do something small to spread the message. It may be as simple as sharing a message on social media or leading a community event, but together we can make an impact.

Read more about the CSP’s Love Activity campaign:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s