Facebook remains one of the largest marketing platforms available to organizations, so it makes sense to explore its potential for communicating public health information to communities. However, using Facebook advertising effectively can be challenging because studies have shown some limitations on one way communication through Facebook for audience engagement.
For example, in the Truckin’ Healthy campaign in Australia, researchers found that Facebook was not a good fit for their audience. This was because the truck drivers were not the right age for using the platform and that they lacked some of the technological skills that would have helped them use the app effectively.
Likewise, the campaign Don’t Know? Don’t Drink designed to encourage healthy choices during pregnancy in New Zealand did poorly as well. Researchers found that the one-way communication of advertisements on Facebook were perceived as condescending by participants and was unlikely to change a user’s mindset.
Finally, there is the American Healthy Adaptations for Life (HAL) campaign, focusing on nutrition and physical activity with menopausal women. Researchers found that although the ad was able to reach a large number of users, there was a lack of data on whether the ads changed behaviors.
Overall, these studies suggest that using Facebook for public health advertising can be a difficult task. Organizations seeking to use the platform should makes sure that it’s a good fit for their audience while also considering they can measure the effect of the ad on actual health behaviors.