248001 Health promotion through Facebook: Is the university community listening?

Monday, October 31, 2011: 9:30 AM

Jonathan Raviotta , Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Richard Zimmerman, MD, MPH , Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Tricia Nowalk, PhD RD , Department of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Chyongchiou Lin, PhD , Department of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Trends in electronic communication seem to offer efficient strategies to engage communities. While social media has been enthusiastically adopted by businesses, the effectiveness of online public heath communications are questionable. The present study compares the reach and behavioral impact of Facebook ads with standard recruiting practices. We targeted Facebook ads soliciting participation in a clinical trial of a HPV vaccine to men age 18-25 residing within 50 miles of our site. Online ads replicated print versions as closely as possible while conforming to media specifications. Placements included a small picture and caption. The alternate method included ads in the university paper and city bus, campus postings, class announcements, and email blasts. All materials presented contact information or directly linked to our online screening questionnaire. The chi-square test of referral source and enrolment ratios of eligible men was significant. Of the 167 eligible individuals, 37.1% were referred through Facebook (n=62) and 30 have enrolled in the study. 75.2% of eligible men referred through alternate sources enrolled (p<.001). Chi-square analysis of referral source by race, age, or grade level failed to show significant differences between audiences. The present study suggests that Facebook ads have the potential to effectively communicate health messages and to elicit action from college age men. While a smaller proportion of men who interacted with Facebook ads followed through with the ultimate behavior, the audience for this health message was expanded to more community members than was possible with traditional communication.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare social media recruitment methods to traditional recruitment methods. Evaluate the effectiveness of social media health promotion campaigns. List principles for successful social media health promotion.

Keywords: College Students, Social Marketing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have been trained in health promotion and communication through the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Merck & Co HPV immunization efficacy Independent Contractor (contracted research and clinical trials)

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.