Managing Pandemic Communication Online: Turkish Ministry of Health’s Digital Communication Strategies During COVID-19
Health ministries around the world have used online communication, specifically social media platforms, to provide information, communicate warnings to the public, and influence behavior according to recommended health precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grounded in agenda-setting theory, this study analyzes Turkey’s Ministry of Health’s (MoH) social media communication strategies and practices during COVID-19 through a content analysis of the content shared via its official Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts from February to June 2020, focusing on the first 120 days of the pandemic, when it was at its height. Findings reveal that the MoH’s social media activity was mainly driven by Twitter, and the minister of health has become the face of the fight against the pandemic. Results reveal that the government’s efforts to fight against the virus and its prevention measures are among the most popular themes in online communication. The MoH’s social media communication has shown only limited success in community building and network expansion due to inconsistent and ineffective hashtag use, among other weaknesses in the ministry’s use of social media conventions.