Social Media Activities

Social media and social networking tools such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter are increasingly being used to help tackle smoking and vaping, particularly with youth. One of the advantages of these platforms is that they are accessible, low cost and familiar to young people. Research suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use social media at higher rates than non-Indigenous Australians. Social media is popular even in remote communities, where access to the internet can be limited. This makes social media a valuable communication tool for healthcare services. Social media can be a cost effective way to announce events, increasing their visibility and encouraging community engagement.

Social media can also be used to share health promotion messages as part of a social marketing campaign. Social media platforms like Facebook, and traditional mass media channels like TV and radio are all good ways to deliver a message to an audience. However, social media platforms go one step further, encouraging a response from the audience. Social media posts can promote discussions about smoking and vaping, allow people to share their own stories about quitting, and increase audience engagement with the message. Messages will also be amplified (increase their reach) when users share posts with their wider social network.

As a social networking service, platforms like Facebook also provide a unique opportunity to engage with the community and build support for smoke and vape free messages. A recent study on using Facebook to reduce smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people found that there was potential for health services to incorporate a strategy of using paid local social media ‘champions’ or ‘ambassadors’ to disseminate tobacco control messages on Facebook through community networks. It also found that:

  • posts were more likely to be shared if they:
    • were child-focused
    • featured Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content
    • were perceived as practical, relevant and credible, with a direct and unambiguous message.
  • posts were less likely to be shared if they:
    • included disgusting imagery about health impacts
    • were focused on the environment
    • were ambiguous or sarcastic.

The NBPU TIS have produced a Key facts about social media factsheet and infographic that provide key information for TIS workers about using social media to communicate messages about smoking.

Social media factsheet

Social media infographic


Claudine Thornton’s social media training

A bespoke online social media training course has been developed for the TIS workforce by Claudine Thornton Creative. You will learn about marketing terminology and consumer behaviour tactics. Understanding how marketers use emotion over logic in promoting cigarettes, means you can use the same tactics to persuade people to be smoke-free. The course focuses on how to use emotional availability to reverse engineer tobacco marketing. The course lasts around one and a half hours and comprises seven modules each split into 5-10 minute segments. So you can complete it in one go, or in short pieces. The course is free to access, simply open this link and then click the ‘Enroll for free’ button.

Menzies School of Health Research has produced a tips and tricks resource for people working in health promotion and tobacco control, Social media in health promotion and tobacco control: tips and tricks. An accompanying PowerPoint presentation, Can Facebook help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to quit smoking? is also available.