4 November 2019
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.