Monday, 9 November 2015

Crunching the numbers for getting the most out of your online health promotion campaign

SPHPM's Dr Mark Stoove, Professor Margaret Hellard, Dr Alisa Pedrana and researchers from The Burnet Institute have co-authored a paper, exploring various social networking channels and how their strategies have been effective in targeting users in sexual health promotion information.

Since the development of Web 2.0 applications, social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have seen rapid growth and increasing popularity amongst the population. By March 2013, Facebook had 1.1 billion users, a staggering increase from 300 million in 2009. A pivotal factor in the shift in Web 2.0 technology is the increased interaction between the host and users through the development of user-created content.

Social networks enable sharing of content through photo, video and allow messaging between different groups and individuals. This change means that rather than information sharing becoming one sided or passive, users can interact with the host and create their own forms of sharing, which equates to significant potential in sending health promotional information.

The overarching goal of health promotion is enabling individuals to take autonomy over their own health and make informed decisions to change their behaviour. Campaigns that have an interactive element are likely to have a better chance of encouraging change according to research in the field. Past studies have highlighted that computer or internet oriented strategies have increased potential in impacting attitudes, knowledge and social norms but can also influence health behaviour change in multiple areas.

The purpose of this study was to determine an effective strategy to measure and evaluate successful online engagement, as well as pinpointing the strategies of Facebook and Twitter profiles that have high user engagement.

The authors found 60 Facebook profiles and 40 Twitter profiles through a systematic review that are currently advocating for sexual health promotion. . They followed profile activity across one month, while monitoring number of friends, number of followers and social media interactions. Composite scores were utilised to rank profiles by engagement success. The content of the top 10 Twitter and Facebook profiles were critiqued through the use of a thematic framework and were then contrasted against five profiles that had poor engagement to determine strategies or measures for positive engagement.

The results indicated that profiles who had effectively engaged with a vast number of users were generally more active online and also achieved higher interactions per user. Effective strategies utilised by top ranking profiles were regular posts or tweets: 46 posts or 124 tweets per month in comparison to six posts or six tweets a month.

Successful profiles also focused on individualised interaction with each user as well advocating for conversation through posting of questions: 100 per cent for top 10 ranking profiles in comparison to 40 per cent for poor performing profiles. Other noted strategies were the use of multimedia information and emphasising any celebrity involvement.

The authors conclude that quantitative methodology and qualitative content analysis can be effectively utilised to determine successful online engagement on various social networking channels. The authors also successfully determined the amount of published content needed and forms of activity to encourage higher user engagement. These results are crucial in ensuring that future online centric strategies success to promote important health messages.

You can read the article here.

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