Would you tell everyone this? Facebook conversations as health promotion interventions

Jonathan Syred, Carla Naidoo, Sarah Woodhall, Paula Baraitser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Health promotion interventions on social networking sites can communicate individually tailored content to a large audience. User-generated content helps to maximize engagement, but health promotion websites have had variable success in supporting user engagement. Objective: The aim of our study was to examine which elements of moderator and participant behavior stimulated and maintained interaction with a sexual health promotion site on Facebook. Methods: We examined the pattern and content of posts on a Facebook page. Google analytics was used to describe the number of people using the page and viewing patterns. A qualitative, thematic approach was used to analyze content. Results: During the study period (January 18, 2010, to June 27, 2010), 576 users interacted 888 times with the site through 508 posts and 380 comments with 93% of content generated by users. The user-generated conversation continued while new participants were driven to the site by advertising, but interaction with the site ceased rapidly after the advertising stopped. Conversations covered key issues on chlamydia and chlamydia testing. Users endorsed testing, celebrated their negative results, and modified and questioned key messages. There was variation in user approach to the site from sharing of personal experience and requesting help to joking about sexually transmitted infection. The moderator voice was reactive, unengaged, tolerant, simplistic, and was professional in tone. There was no change in the moderator approach throughout the period studied. Conclusions: Our findings suggest this health promotion site provided a space for single user posts but not a self-sustaining conversation. Possible explanations for this include little new content from the moderator, a definition of content too narrow to hold the interest of participants, and limited responsiveness to user needs. Implications for health promotion practice include the need to consider a life cycle approach to online community development for health promotion and the need for a developing moderator strategy to reflect this. This strategy should reflect two facets of moderation for online health promotion interventions: (1) unengaged and professional oversight to provide a safe space for discussion and to maintain information quality, and (2) a more engaged and interactive presence designed to maintain interest that generates new material for discussion and is responsive to user requests.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere108
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Chlamydia
  • Health promotion
  • Social media


Dive into the research topics of 'Would you tell everyone this? Facebook conversations as health promotion interventions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this