Using Paid and Free Facebook Methods to Recruit Australian Parents to an Online Survey: An Evaluation.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The prevalence of social media makes it a potential alternative to traditional offline methods of recruiting and engaging participants in health research. Despite burgeoning use and interest, few studies have rigorously evaluated its effectiveness and feasibility in terms of recruitment rates and costs, sample representativeness, and retention. OBJECTIVE:This study aimed to determine the feasibility of using Facebook to recruit employed Australian parents to an online survey about managing work and family demands, specifically to examine (1) recruitment rates and costs; (2) sample representativeness, compared with a population-based cohort of parents; and (3) retention, including demographic and health characteristics of parents who returned to complete a follow-up survey 6 weeks later. METHODS:Recruitment was conducted using 20 paid Facebook advertising campaigns, supplemented with free advertising approaches such as posts on relevant Facebook pages and requests for professional networks to circulate the survey link via Facebook. Recruitment rates and costs were evaluated using the Checklist for Reporting Results of Internet E-Surveys, including view rate, participation rate, completion rate, cost per consent, and cost per completer. Sample representativeness was evaluated by comparing demographic and outcome variables with a comparable sample from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children including educational attainment, marital status, country of birth, neighborhood disadvantage, work-family conflict, and psychological distress. Retention was evaluated by comparing the number and demographic characteristics of participants at recruitment and at 6-week follow-up. RESULTS:Recruitment strategies together resulted in 6653 clicks on the survey link, from which 5378 parents consented to participate and 4665 (86.74%) completed the survey. Of those who completed the survey, 85.94% (4009/4665) agreed to be recontacted, with 57.79% (2317/4009) completing the follow-up survey (ie, 43.08% [2317/5378] of parents who consented to the initial survey). Paid Facebook advertising recruited nearly 75% of the sample at Aus $2.32 per completed survey (Aus $7969 spent, 3440 surveys completed). Compared with a population-based sample, participants at baseline were more likely to be university educated (P<.001), experience greater work-family conflict (P<.001) and psychological distress (P<.001), and were less likely to be born outside Australia (P<.001) or live in a disadvantaged neighborhood (P<.001). CONCLUSIONS:Facebook provided a feasible, rapid method to recruit a large national sample of parents for health research. However, some sample biases were observed and should be considered when recruiting participants via Facebook. Retention of participants at 6- to 8-week follow-up was less than half the initial sample; this may reflect limited ongoing participant engagement for those recruited through social media, compared with face-to-face.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Facebook has shown promise as an economical means of recruiting participants for health research. However, few studies have evaluated this recruitment method in Canada, fewer still targeting older adults, and, to our knowledge, none specifically in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). OBJECTIVE:This study aimed to assess Facebook advertising as an economical means of recruiting a representative sample of adults aged 35 to 74 years in NL for a cross-sectional health survey. METHODS:Facebook advertising was used to recruit for a Web-based survey on cancer awareness and prevention during April and May 2018; during recruitment, additional advertisements were targeted to increase representation of demographics that we identified as being underrepresented in our sample. Sociodemographic and health characteristics of the study sample were compared with distributions of the underlying population to determine representativeness. Cramer V indicates the magnitude of the difference between the sample and population distributions, interpreted as small (Cramer V=0.10), medium (0.30), and large (0.50). Sample characteristics were considered representative if there was no statistically significant difference in distributions (chi-square P>.01) or if the difference was small (V?0.10), and practically representative if 0.10<V?0.20. The cost per recruit of Facebook advertising was compared with a quote for a random digit dialing (RDD)-recruited postal survey to determine if this method was economical. RESULTS:Facebook advertising is feasible and economical to conduct survey research, reaching 34,012 people, of which 2067 clicked on the ad, for a final sample size of 1048 people at Can $2.18 per recruit versus the quoted Can $23,316.05 for 400 recruits (Can $35.52 per recruit) via RDD. The sample was representative of rural and urban geography (P=.02; V=0.073), practically representative of age (P=.003; V=0.145) and income (P<.001; V=0.188), and over-representative of women (P<.001; V=0.507) and higher levels of education (P<.001; V=0.488). The sample was representative of the proportion of people with a regular health care provider (P=.94; V=0.025), diabetes prevalence (P=.002; V=0.096), and having had a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy (P=.27; V=0.034), and it was practically representative of smoking status (P<.001; V=0.14), and body mass index (P<.001; V=0.135). The sample was not representative of arthritis prevalence (P<.001; V=0.573), perceived health (P<.001; V=0.384), or time since last seasonal flu shot (P<.001; V=0.449). CONCLUSIONS:Facebook advertising offers an easy, rapid, and economical means to recruit a partially representative (representative or practically representative of 8 of the 13 characteristics studied) sample of middle-aged and older adults for health survey research. As Facebook uses a nonrandom targeting algorithm, caution is warranted in its applications for certain types of research.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Researchers are increasingly using social media advertisements to recruit participants because of their many advantages over traditional methods. Although there is growing evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of social media recruitment in the health sciences, no studies have yet examined this in the context of suicide prevention, which remains to be a highly stigmatized and sensitive topic. OBJECTIVE:This study aims to recruit a general community sample to complete a survey on suicide literacy, stigma, and risk via Facebook advertisements. Specifically, we aim to establish the performance of the advertisements, cost-effectiveness, sample representativeness, and the impact of gender-specific advertising on recruiting men into the study. METHODS:From June 2017 to March 2019, we released Facebook advertisements targeted at adults 18 years or older, residing in the New South Wales (NSW) trial or control regions, and involved in the LifeSpan suicide prevention trial. Cost-effectiveness was examined descriptively using metrics provided by Facebook. Chi-square analyses were conducted to determine demographic differences between our sample and the general NSW population as well as the impact of gender-specific advertisements on gender engagement. RESULTS:The 14 Facebook advertisement campaigns reached a total of 675,199 people, yielding 25,993 link clicks and resulting in 9603 individuals initiating the survey (7487 completions) at an overall cost of Aus $2.81 (US $2.01) per participant. There was an overrepresentation of younger (P=.003), female (P=.003), highly educated (P<.001) participants and mental health conditions (P<.001) compared with the total NSW population. The use of male-specific advertisements resulted in a significantly higher proportion of men completing the survey relative to gender-neutral advertisements (38.2% vs 24.6%; P<.001). CONCLUSIONS:This study demonstrates the potential of Facebook to be an effective, low-cost strategy for recruiting a large sample of general community participants for suicide prevention research. Strategies to improve sample representativeness warrant further investigation in future research.
Project description:In smoking cessation studies with restrictive criteria (e.g., single-smoker couples), thousands of potential participants might need to be screened to obtain a reasonable sample size. Consideration of recruitment methodology is critical because recruitment methods influence both the success and cost effectiveness of recruitment. Although traditional recruitment methods are often used to recruit participants into smoking cessation research, newer technologies, such as paid Facebook advertising, might offer more cost-effective alternatives for recruitment. The current analysis compares two versions of paid Facebook advertising and a specialized mass mailing method used to recruit single-smoker couples into an intensive three-week study of unaided smoking cessation. The three methods are compared in terms of demographic characteristics, eligibility, and cost-effectiveness. Although Facebook's "Promote Your Page" mechanism achieved the fastest recruitment rate (2.75 couples per month; 498 USD per couple), Facebook's "Send People to Your Website" mechanism was the least expensive and provided the most demographically diverse sample (1.64 couples per month; 181 USD per couple). The specialized mailing method was not productive or cost-effective (0.80 couples per month; 454 USD per couple). Paid Facebook advertising fared better as a recruitment method than a specialized mailing method often used in survey research. Studies that have less restrictive eligibility criteria, that draw from a larger local population, or that recruit for a less intense study might find paid Facebook advertising to be quite feasible.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In recent years, there has been a proliferation of third-party Web-based services available to consumers to interpret raw DNA from direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies. Little is known about who uses these services and the downstream health implications. Identifying this hard-to-reach population of consumers for research raised questions about the most effective recruitment methods to undertake. Past studies have found that Web-based social media survey distribution can be cost-effective for targeting hard-to-reach populations, yet comparative efficacy information across platforms is limited. OBJECTIVE:The aim of this study was to identify the most effective Web-based strategies to identify and recruit the target population of direct-to-consumer genetic testing users who also made use of third-party interpretation services to analyze their raw genetic data. Web-based survey recruitment methods varying by social media platform and advertising method were compared in terms of cost-effectiveness and demographics of survey respondents. METHODS:A total of 5 Web-based survey distribution conditions were examined: 4 paid advertising services and 1 unpaid service. For the paid services, a 2x2 quasi-experimental design compared social media platforms (Facebook vs Twitter) and advertising tracking metrics (by click vs by conversion). The fifth unpaid comparison method consisted of study postings on the social media platform, Reddit, without any paid advertising. Links to identical Web-based versions of the study questionnaire were posted for 10 to 14 days for each of the distribution conditions, which allowed tracking the number of respondents that entered and completed the questionnaire by distribution condition. RESULTS:In total, 438 individuals were recruited to the study through all conditions. A nearly equivalent number of participants were recruited from paid campaigns on Facebook (n=159) and Twitter (n=167), with a smaller sample recruited on Reddit (n=112). Significantly more participants were recruited through conversion-tracking (n=222) than through click-tracking campaigns (n=104; Z=6.5, P<.001). Response rates were found to be partially driven by organic sharing of recruitment materials among social media users. Conversion tracking was more cost-effective than click tracking across paid social media platforms. Significant differences in terms of gender and age distributions were noted between the platforms and between the tracking metrics. CONCLUSIONS:Web-based recruitment methods were effective at recruiting participants from a hard-to-reach population in a short time frame. There were significant differences in the effectiveness of various paid advertising techniques. Recruitment through Web-based communities also appeared to perform adequately, yet it may be limited by the number of users accessible in open community groups. Future research should evaluate the impact of organic sharing of recruitment materials because this appeared to play a substantial role in the observed effectiveness of different methods.
Project description:BACKGROUND:There is a pressing need to address the unacceptable disparities and underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minority groups, including Hispanics or Latinxs, in smoking cessation trials. OBJECTIVE:Given the lack of research on recruitment strategies for this population, this study aims to assess effective recruitment methods based on enrollment and cost. METHODS:Recruitment and enrollment data were collected from a nationwide randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a Spanish-language smoking cessation intervention (N=1417). The effectiveness of each recruitment strategy was evaluated by computing the cost per participant (CPP), which is the ratio of direct cost over the number enrolled. More effective strategies yielded lower CPPs. Demographic and smoking-related characteristics of participants recruited via the two most effective strategies were also compared (n=1307). RESULTS:Facebook was the most effective method (CPP=US $74.12), followed by TV advertisements (CPP=US $191.31), whereas public bus interior card advertising was the least effective method (CPP=US $642.50). Participants recruited via Facebook had lower average age (P=.008) and had spent fewer years in the United States (P<.001). Among the participants recruited via Facebook, a greater percentage of individuals had at least a high school education (P<.001) and an annual income above US $10,000 (P<.001). In addition, a greater percentage of individuals were employed (P<.001) and foreign born (P=.003). In terms of subethnicity, among the subjects recruited via Facebook, a lower percentage of individuals were of Mexican origin (P<.001) and a greater percentage of individuals were of Central American (P=.02), South American (P=.01), and Cuban (P<.001) origin. CONCLUSIONS:Facebook was the most effective method for recruiting Hispanic or Latinx smokers in the United States for this RCT. However, using multiple methods was necessary to recruit a more diverse sample of Spanish-preferring Hispanic or Latinx smokers.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The use of paid social media advertising for targeted study recruitment is an effective strategy in health research and evaluation, specifically to reach diverse youth participants. Although the literature adequately describes the utility of Facebook in recruitment, limited information exists for social media platforms that are more popular with youth, specifically Instagram and Snapchat. OBJECTIVE:This paper outlines a paid advertising approach using Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook to evaluate a statewide youth marijuana prevention campaign. The objective of this study was to compare recruitment metrics across Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook for two surveys documenting youth knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to retail marijuana in Colorado post legalization. In addition, the study assessed the feasibility of using Instagram and Snapchat as effective additions to Facebook for youth study recruitment. METHODS:A social media recruitment strategy was used to conduct two cross-sectional surveys of youth, aged 13 to 20 years, in Colorado. Geographically targeted ads across 3 social media platforms encouraged the completion of a Web-based self-administered survey. Ad Words and Snap Ads were used to deploy and manage advertising campaigns, including ad design, placement, and analysis. Ad costs and recruitment metrics (ie, impressions, link clicks, and conversion rates) were calculated across the three social media platforms. RESULTS:Over two 1-month periods, 763,613 youth were reached (ie, impressions), 6089 of them clicked survey links (ie, clicks), and 828 eligible youth completed surveys about knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to retail marijuana. Instagram converted 36.13% (803/2222) of impressions to clicks (ie, conversion rate) in the first survey and 0.87% (864/98982) in the second survey. Snapchat generated the most impressions and link clicks, but it did so with the lowest conversion rate for both surveys, with a 1.40% (1600/114,200) conversion rate in the first survey and a 0.36% (1818/504700) conversion rate in the second survey. Facebook maintained a consistent conversion rate of roughly 2% across both surveys, despite reductions in budget for the second survey. The cost-per-click ranged between US $0.25 and $0.37 across the three platforms, with Snapchat as both the most cost-effective platform in the first survey and the most expensive platform in the second survey. CONCLUSIONS:Recruitment and enrollment outcomes indicate the use of Instagram and Snapchat, in addition to Facebook, may be a modern, useful, and cost-effective approach to reach youth with surveys on sensitive health topics. As the use of Facebook declines among youth, the use of more popular social media platforms can augment study recruitment for health research and evaluation efforts.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Sufficient sample size and minimal sample bias are core requirements for empirical data analyses. Combining opportunistic recruitment with a Web-based survey and data-collection platform yields new benefits over traditional recruitment approaches. OBJECTIVE:This paper aims to report the success of different recruitment methods and obtain data on participants' characteristics, participation behavior, recruitment rates, and representativeness of the sample. METHODS:A longitudinal, Web-based survey was implemented as part of the European PASTA (Physical Activity through Sustainable Transport Approaches) project, between November 2014 and December 2016. During this period, participants were recruited from 7 European cities on a rolling basis. A standardized guide on recruitment strategy was developed for all cities, to reach a sufficient number of adult participants. To make use of the strengths and minimize weakness, a combination of different opportunistic recruitment methods was applied. In addition, the random sampling approach was applied in the city of Örebro. To reduce the attrition rate and improve real-time monitoring, the Web-based platform featured a participant's and a researchers' user interface and dashboard. RESULTS:Overall, 10,691 participants were recruited; most people found out about the survey through their workplace or employer (2300/10691, 21.51%), outreach promotion (2219/10691, 20.76%), and social media (1859/10691, 17.39%). The average number of questionnaires filled in per participant varied significantly between the cities (P<.001), with the highest number in Zurich (11.0, SE 0.33) and the lowest in Örebro (4.8, SE 0.17). Collaboration with local organizations, the use of Facebook and mailing lists, and direct street recruitment were the most effective approaches in reaching a high share of participants (P<.001). Considering the invested working hours, Facebook was one of the most time-efficient methods. Compared with the cities' census data, the composition of study participants was broadly representative in terms of gender distribution; however, the study included younger and better-educated participants. CONCLUSIONS:We observed that offering a mixed recruitment approach was highly effective in achieving a high participation rate. The highest attrition rate and the lowest average number of questionnaires filled in per participant were observed in Örebro, which also recruited participants through random sampling. These findings suggest that people who are more interested in the topic are more willing to participate and stay in a survey than those who are selected randomly and may not have a strong connection to the research topic. Although direct face-to-face contacts were very effective with respect to the number of recruited participants, recruiting people through social media was not only effective but also very time efficient. The collected data are based on one of the largest recruited longitudinal samples with a common recruitment strategy in different European cities.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The MsFLASH (Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health) Network recruited into five randomized clinical trials (n?=?100-350) through mass mailings. The fifth trial tested two interventions for postmenopausal vulvovaginal symptoms (itching, pain, irritation, dryness, or pain with sex) and thus required a high level of sensitivity to privacy concerns. For this trial, in addition to mass mailings we pilot tested a social media recruitment approach. We aimed to evaluate the feasibility of recruiting healthy midlife women with bothersome vulvovaginal symptoms to participate in the Vaginal Health Trial through Facebook advertising. METHODS:As part of a larger advertising campaign that enrolled 302 postmenopausal women for the 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Vaginal Health Trial from April 2016 to February 2017, Facebook advertising was used to recruit 25 participants. The target population for recruitment by mailings and by Facebook ads included women aged 50-70?years and living within 20 miles of study sites in Minneapolis, MN and Seattle, WA. Design of recruitment letters and Facebook advertisements was informed by focus group feedback. Facebook ads were displayed in the "newsfeed" of targeted users and included a link to the study website. Response rates and costs are described for both online ads and mailing. RESULTS:Facebook ads ran in Minneapolis for 28?days and in Seattle for 15?days, with ads posted and removed from the site as needed based on clinic flow and a set budget limit. Our estimated Facebook advertising reach was over 200,000 women; 461 women responded and 25 were enrolled at a cost of US$14,813. The response rate per estimated reach was 0.22%; costs were US$32 per response and US$593 per randomized participant. The social media recruitment results varied by site, showing greater effectiveness in Seattle than in Minneapolis. We mailed 277,000 recruitment letters; 2166 women responded and 277 were randomized at a cost of US$98,682. The response rate per letter sent was 0.78%; costs were US$46 per response and US$356 per randomized participant. Results varied little across sites. CONCLUSION:Recruitment to a clinical trial testing interventions for postmenopausal vaginal symptoms is feasible through social media advertising. Variability in observed effectiveness and costs may reflect the small sample sizes and limited budget of the pilot recruitment study.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Facebook's advertising platform reaches most US households and has been used for health-related research recruitment. The platform allows for advertising segmentation by age, gender, and location; however, it does not explicitly allow for targeting by race or ethnicity to facilitate a diverse participant pool. OBJECTIVE:This study looked at the efficacy of zip code targeting in Facebook advertising to reach blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos who smoke daily for a quit-smoking web-based social media study. METHODS:We ran a general market campaign for 61 weeks using all continental US zip codes as a baseline. Concurrently, we ran 2 campaigns to reach black/African American and Hispanic-/Latino-identified adults, targeting zip codes ranked first by the percentage of households of the racial or ethnic group of interest and then by cigarette expenditure per household. We also ran a Spanish language campaign for 13 weeks, targeting all continental US zip codes but utilizing Facebook's Spanish language targeting. The advertising images and language were common across campaigns. Costs were compared for advertisement clicks, queries, applications, and participants, and yields were compared for the final three outcomes. We examined outcomes before and after the Cambridge Analytica scandal that broke in March 2018. Finally, we examined 2 promoted Facebook features: lookalike audiences and audience network placement. RESULTS:Zip code targeting campaigns were effective for yielding the racial or ethnic groups of interest. The black-/African American-focused versus general market campaign increased black/African American weekly queries (mean 9.48, SD 5.69 vs general market mean 2.83, SD 2.05; P<.001) and applicants (mean 1.11, SD 1.21 vs general market mean 0.54, SD 0.58; P<.001). The Hispanic-/Latino-focused versus general market campaign increased Hispanic/Latino weekly queries (mean 3.10, SD 2.16 vs general market mean 0.71, SD 0.48; P<.001) and applicants (mean 0.36, SD 0.55 vs general market mean 0.10, SD 0.14; P=.001). Cost metrics did not differ between campaigns at generating participants (overall P=.54). Costs increased post- versus prescandal for the black-/African American-focused campaign for queries (mean US $8.51, SD 3.08 vs US $5.87, SD 1.89; P=.001) and applicants (mean US $59.64, SD 35.63 vs US $38.96, SD 28.31; P=.004) and for the Hispanic-/Latino-focused campaign for queries (mean US $9.24, SD 4.74 vs US $7.04, SD 3.39; P=.005) and applicants (mean US $61.19, SD 40.08 vs US $38.19, SD 21.20; P=.001). CONCLUSIONS:Zip code targeting in Facebook advertising is an effective way to recruit diverse populations for health-based interventions. Audience network placement should be avoided. The Facebook lookalike audience may not be necessary for recruitment, with drawbacks including an unknown algorithm and unclear use of Facebook user data, and so public concerns around data privacy should be considered. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrial.gov NCT02823028; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02823028.
Project description:BACKGROUND:This report provides data on the use of social media advertising as a clinical trial recruitment strategy targeting healthy volunteers aged 60 years and older. The social media advertising campaign focused on enrollment for a Phase 1 clinical trial. Traditional means of recruiting-billboards, newspaper advertising, word of mouth, personal referrals, and direct mail-were not producing enough qualified participants. OBJECTIVE:To demonstrate the effectiveness of using targeted advertising on the social networking site Facebook to recruit people aged 60 years and older for volunteer clinical trial participation. METHODS:The trial sponsor used a proactive approach to recruit participants using advertising on social media. The sponsor placed and monitored an Institutional Review Board-approved advertising campaign on Facebook to recruit potential candidates for a Phase 1 clinical trial. The clinical trial required a 10-day residential (overnight) stay at a clinic in Michigan, with one follow-up visit. The sponsor of the clinical trial placed the advertising, which directed interested respondents to a trial-specific landing page controlled by the Contract Research Organization (CRO). The CRO provided all follow-up consenting, prescreening, screening, and enrollment procedures. The campaign was waged over an 8-week period to supplement recruiting by the CRO. RESULTS:A total of 621 people responded to a Facebook advertising campaign by completing an online form or telephoning the CRO, and the clinical trial was fully enrolled at 45 subjects following an 8-week Facebook advertising campaign. CONCLUSIONS:An 8-week Facebook advertising campaign contributed to 868 inquiries made regarding a Phase 1 clinical trial seeking to enroll healthy elderly subjects. Over the initial 11 weeks of recruitment, 178 inquiries were received using traditional methods of outreach. Respondents to the Facebook advertising campaign described in this report engaged with the sponsored advertising at a higher rate than is typical for social media-based clinical trial recruitment strategies. The older adults' engagement rate of 4.92% was more than twice as high as click-through rates of younger adults engaged with social media advertising in other clinical trial recruitment studies. Advertising placed on the social media platform Facebook is effective with the healthy volunteer population aged 60 years and older. This approach can quickly and cost-effectively reach qualified candidates for clinical trial recruitment as a supplement to traditional means of recruiting. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02840279; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02840279 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6wamIWXAt).