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      Attracting Users to Online Health Communities: Analysis of LungCancer.net’s Facebook Advertisement Campaign Data

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          With growing numbers of adults turning to the internet to get answers for health-related questions, online communities provide platforms with participatory networks to deliver health information and social support. However, to optimize the benefits of these online communities, these platforms must market effectively to attract new members and promote community growth.


          The aim of this study was to assess the engagement results of Facebook advertisements designed to increase membership in the LungCancer.net online community.


          In the fall of 2017, a series of 5 weeklong Facebook advertisement campaigns were launched targeting adults over the age of 18 years with an interest in lung cancer to increase opt ins to the LungCancer.net community (ie, the number of people who provided their email to join the site).


          The advertisements released during this campaign had a sum reach of 91,835 people, and 863 new members opted into the LungCancer.net community by providing their email address. Females aged 55 to 64 years were the largest population reached by the campaign (31,401/91,835; 34.29%), whereas females aged 65 and older were the largest population who opted into the LungCancer.net community (307/863; 35.57%). A total of US $1742 was invested in the Facebook campaigns, and 863 people opted into LungCancer.net, resulting in a cost of US $2.02 per new member.


          This research demonstrates the feasibility of using Facebook advertising to promote and grow online health communities. More research is needed to compare the effectiveness of various advertising approaches. Public health professionals should consider Facebook campaigns to effectively connect intended audiences to health information and support.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Web-Based Recruiting for Health Research Using a Social Networking Site: An Exploratory Study

          Background Recruitment of young people for health research by traditional methods has become more expensive and challenging over recent decades. The Internet presents an opportunity for innovative recruitment modalities. Objective To assess the feasibility of recruiting young females using targeted advertising on the social networking site Facebook. Methods We placed an advertisement on Facebook from May to September 2010, inviting 16- to 25-year-old females from Victoria, Australia, to participate in a health study. Those who clicked on the advertisement were redirected to the study website and were able to express interest by submitting their contact details online. They were contacted by a researcher who assessed eligibility and invited them to complete a health-related survey, which they could do confidentially and securely either at the study site or remotely online. Results A total of 551 females responded to the advertisement, of whom 426 agreed to participate, with 278 completing the survey (139 at the study site and 139 remotely). Respondents’ age distribution was representative of the target population, while 18- to 25-year-olds were more likely to be enrolled in the study and complete the survey than 16- to 17-year-olds (prevalence ratio = 1.37, 95% confidence interval 1.05–1.78, P = .02). The broad geographic distribution (major city, inner regional, and outer regional/remote) and socioeconomic profile of participants matched the target population. Predictors of participation were older age, higher education level, and higher body mass index. Average cost in advertising fees per compliant participant was US $20, making this highly cost effective. Conclusions Results demonstrate the potential of using modern information and communication technologies to engage young women in health research and penetrate into nonurban communities. The success of this method has implications for future medical and population research in this and other demographics.
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            Why people use social networking sites: An empirical study integrating network externalities and motivation theory

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              Membership Size, Communication Activity, and Sustainability: A Resource-Based Model of Online Social Structures

               Brian Butler (2001)

                Author and article information

                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                November 2019
                4 November 2019
                : 21
                : 11
                [1 ] Department of Health Behavior Gillings School of Global Public Health University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC United States
                [2 ] School of Media and Journalism University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC United States
                [3 ] Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC United States
                [4 ] Health Union, LLC Philadelphia, PA United States
                [5 ] Department of Nutrition Gillings School of Global Public Health University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC United States
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Lindsey N Horrell horrell@ 123456email.unc.edu
                ©Lindsey N Horrell, Allison J Lazard, Amrita Bhowmick, Sara Hayes, Susan Mees, Carmina G Valle. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 04.11.2019.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                Original Paper
                Original Paper


                internet, health communication, social media, health promotion, health education


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