Blogshots – making evidence short and shareable for social media

Editor’s note (October 2018): since Cochrane UK began making blogshots in 2015, the format and ways of sharing and archiving them have undergone changes. Others in Cochrane have since started making then and translating them into other languages and a variety of blogshot types are now in existence. As part of Cochrane’s Knowledge Translation programme, work will continue on improving and evaluating the blogshots as a means of sharing Cochrane evidence. Our Evidently Cochrane blogs about blogshots reflect different stages of their development over time and should be read with this in mind, rather than as a guide for current practice.

It’s ten months since we started experimenting with blogshots as a way to share evidence, prompted by some conversations on Twitter when Teresa Chinn (@AgencyNurse) announced that she was experimenting with a form of microblogging. You can read more about how we developed them in this blog 


Here’s one:

Aquatic exercise EEHC blogshot Mar 16


These images with brief information, shared though social media, are proving to be really popular. I’m noticing more pictures in my Twitter feed and blogshots fit with this increased appetite for images. They also provide useful information fast. People share them, comment on them and many click the accompanying link to the review (or blog, or other resource). Our most popular so far have been the four blogshots accompanying a new Cochrane review on portion size, which quickly generated more than 1000 clicks to the review.

It’s fantastic that others in Cochrane are now translating our blogshots or looking to make their own, which prompted me to share where we’ve got to with our thinking on making and using blogshots. Whilst the intention was to help Cochrane colleagues share their evidence in this way, I’m aware that there’s wider interest in blogshots.  Also, those of you who are regular readers and users of our blogshots may have noticed some recent changes and this is a good opportunity to explain what we’re doing.

What goes into a blogshot

woman leaning against a wall looking down Image

Something clear and simple, which will allow the title to show up. It’s also worth considering the impact images have. It can be hard finding what I consider to be truthful images when selecting from a library of stock images, but worth taking some time over. Choose well and they can get the blogshot noticed and reinforce the written information; get it wrong and they can mislead, annoy or even make people feel judged. It’s particularly challenging, and emotive, with subjects like mental health conditions. Searching related terms brings up numerous photos of people tearing at their hair or making exaggerated expressions. I chose the image on the right for a blogshot on panic disorder, which I hoped was both more respectful and more truthful.


Short and simple.

Key message

I share one or more pieces of information from the review (or report, or other resource). I put the key message(s) before the information about the review, having had feedback that people want to read this first. In line with work on knowledge translation done by Claire Glenton, Director of Cochrane Norway, and her colleagues, I use the qualifiers ‘probably’ and ‘may’ where evidence is rated moderate and low quality according to GRADE, and ‘unknown’/’uncertain’ for very low quality evidence. More about GRADE in a moment.

Information about the review

I always say it’s a Cochrane review (I might add add ‘New’ or ‘Updated’) and give the number of studies and participants. For blogshots aimed at a general audience (our Evidence for Everyday Health Choices series), I use ‘studies’ rather than specifying the study design, as the latter is meaningless to many and doesn’t tell people much. I may give some brief information about population/intervention/comparator/outcomes.

Quality of evidence/GRADE?

GRADE is Cochrane’s recommended approach for grading the quality of evidence and the strength of recommendations. However, not all Cochrane reviews contain GRADE assessments, although we hope to see these in new reviews. At Cochrane UK, we recently revisited our decision to use only reviews with GRADE for blogshots, knowing that this means we are missing out on sharing evidence from many reviews in this popular format. We have decided to stick with this, as GRADE helps me to prepare an accurate evidence summary, in a short time, using consistent phrasing (as outlined above).

However, while we started out by including in the blogshot a traffic light indicator GRADE and an explicit statement about it, we now leave out any explicit reference to GRADE or evidence quality. The majority of readers will not be familiar with GRADE and we feel it is more helpful to use it only to inform our key messages.

 It is vital to share a link to the review, or other related material, in the tweet or other post, along with the blogshot. I make a link for each blogshot, which allows us to see how many clicks it generates, a simple measure of the success of the blogshot. I had been giving this within the image too (the ‘find out more’ bit) but have now stopped, as it’s not clickable and just clutters the space. However, I am putting it at the bottom, along with the hashtags, to help us keep track of which link belongs to the blogshot. Interestingly, when we experimented with embedding a clickable link into the blogshot, we found that people didn’t click it! It was all rather clunky and we quickly abandoned it.

One resource, more than one blogshot?

 This is definitely worth considering, where there are multiple key messages to share (we made four for the portion size review, each with the same link but a different message) or where you wish to target more than one audience. I make our blogshots in a general template but also in versions of that templatefor each of our ‘Evidence for Everyday’ series, for nurses (#EENursing), midwives (#EEMidwifery), patients (#EEHealthChoices) and (starting this June) allied health professionals (#EEAlliedHealth). Distinguishing between them makes it easier for the primary target audience to identify relevant blogshots. I tailor the language and detail in the blogshot for each target audience.

Where to share?

Pinterest boards
Here are our blogshot (and other) boards on Pinterest

We share our blogshots on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and archive them on Tumblr, where they are available for anyone to download.

Each social media channel has its own advantages and audiences. Instagram tends to be used to ‘humanise’ a brand, showing that there are people working behind the company logo. It is also increasingly being used for information dissemination and campaigning. The World Health Organization uses it to deliver information cards with campaigning hashtags. We are doing something similar. We will post the square blogshots along with photos of events to increase our brand reach across social media and hope to reach a new audience away from Twitter and Facebook.

Over to you

Do you use and/or share our blogshots? We’d love to hear what you think of them, how you use them and where you share them. Do you use something to share information on social media? Do tell us about it!

You can find me on Twitter @SarahChapman30 and we are there as @CochraneUK, with tweets mostly by my colleague Jack.

Creative Commons License
Blogshots – making evidence short and shareable for social media by Sarah Chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at


Chapman S. “Blogshots: evidence at a glance.” Evidently Cochrane 12 June 2015. Web 18 April 2016

Chapman S. “Blogshots: a new way to make evidence accessible.” Evidently Cochrane 2 June 2015. Web 20 April 2016

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Page last updated: 3 October 2018





Blogshots – making evidence short and shareable for social media by Sarah Chapman

is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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