How to create engaging health content

By Antonia Kanczula, Managing Editor

It’s a challenge to tackle taboo topics, dejargonise complex medical topics, and ultimately change health behaviours in a sparky, absorbing way.

But here at Thrive we know a few things about what makes health content sing. So we’ve shortlisted the essential ingredients and trawled through impactful health campaigns to showcase how it’s done.

Embrace brevity

We know it’s not the raciest quality but, in a world where people are bombarded with information and low health literacy is common, being clear and concise is paramount. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, it’s not about dumbing down but making content smarter, more efficient and louder.

A great example of health information that grabs awareness and tackles a tricky topic with crisp, frankness is Never Too Young from Bowel Cancer UK. Aimed at people under 50, it has a bold visual identity and punchy language to engage an audience who would be hard to reach on any issue, never mind one that often triggers embarrassment.

Make it actionable

Have clear takeaway action points for your audience. You want them to digest your content and go on to make positive decisions that protect their health. To do this you need to understand what makes them tick and what motivates them to act.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is relentlessly productive when it comes to launching health campaigns and each is forensically planned to be actionable. Take the most recent No Tobacco Day on which it promoted 100 reasons to quit – each one is as pithy and ‘takeaway’ as you can get.

Integrate real-life experiences

People’s experiences, in their words, bring an extra special something to health content. Real-life content is empathetic, relatable and supportive. It resonates and connects with users and reaches places other content formats just can’t.

Take This is Diabetes from Diabetes UK, for example. It aims to help people understand what diabetes really feels like by putting real experiences front and centre of its content. Or the UK Health Security Agency ad to encourage more pregnant woman to get the Covid-19 jab. This features women who experienced harrowing birth complications because they caught coronavirus while unvaccinated.

Be bold

Formulaic just doesn’t win in a busy world, where you’re vying for users’ attention. Doing something totally unique and curveball with your content can get you heard.

For example, we love the National Trust’s wellbeing campaign #EveryoneNeedsNature for the starkest of its message and content. Celebrating the healing powers of nature, the hypnotic ads are a true sensory experience. They drive home – in the most emotive way – that connections with the natural world are good for us.

Join forces

If you can’t get to the people you want to speak to, then build bridges with the people who can reach them. There are countless brilliant examples where partnerships – sometimes unlikely – can propel content into the stratosphere.

ITV2’s brilliant Blood Squad campaign in association with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) first began in 2018 and has been iterated several times. It has a cheeky upbeat tone and features a host of channel favourites, with the aim of increasing the numbers of regular young blood donors. And it yields huge results: as a direct result of the campaign, NHSBT say it’s seen an influx of 50,000 new donors, including many 16 to 34-year-olds.

Antonia is the Managing Editor at Thrive. She is responsible for overseeing our team of editors and delivering engaging health content.

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