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Sunday, May 15 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Poster Session 1: Poster Board Number 81

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Poster Board Number: 81
Title: Being Where the People Are: Facebook Use Among US Public Health Organizations
Objective: To better understand how US public health departments are using Facebook.
Methods: This study used a variety of methods to obtain a full picture of Facebook use by public health organizations. First, unobtrusive observation was employed as we searched for and visited the Facebook pages of health departments and public health organizations in the United States. Data visualization tools were used to perform basic content analysis to identify common themes in the topics and postings on each organizations’ “Wall.” Next, we contacted each page administrator via email and Facebook messages to request completion of a questionnaire. This descriptive survey provided more information about the goals behind Facebook use and allowed us to learn more about how the Facebook presence was being maintained, by whom, and for what purpose.
Results: Many US public health organizations are using Facebook to connect with the populations they serve. Pages are maintained by staff from a variety of positions, with most requiring less than 1 hour per week or 1-2 hours per week to maintain. Midwestern states appear to have adopted Facebook more widely than other regions. Common themes in organizations' Facebook posts include preventive care and announcements of new programs. Few topics or types of posts seem to engender community responses. Most organizations are targeting younger adults through their Facebook presence. Over 70% of those surveyed believe their Facebook campaign is effective. Some viewer information is available, but data are insufficient to accurately describe the populations viewing these Facebook pages.
Conclusions: While most public health organizations using Facebook to connect with their populations feel this activity is successful, more research is needed to determine return on investment or the impact of Facebook presence on effective outreach community health.
Authors: Lorelei Woody, Liaison Services Librarian, Taubman Health Sciences Library; Gillian Mayman, Program Coordinator, Health Communications, Center for Managing Chronic Disease; Nathan Hill, Student, School of Information; Kate Saylor, Outreach Librarian, Taubman Health Sciences Library; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI


Sunday May 15, 2011 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Exhibit Hall A - Minneapolis Convention Center

Attendees (20)




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