Social media and social networking

Social media and social networking tools such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter are increasingly being used to help tackle smoking, particularly with young adults. One of the advantages of these platforms is that they are accessible, low cost and familiar to young people. About 20.5 million Australians are active users of social media – around 80% of the total population. Research by the McNair Ingenuity Research Institute in 2014 found that Facebook is a popular means of communication among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The use of Facebook and Twitter as a way of communicating is a popular approach for many healthcare services. However the value of these tools seems to lie more in their networking functions. Social media is interactive and user-driven, meaning it has the potential to provide real-time peer to peer support and discussion around tobacco use.

There is currently a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of using social media in tobacco control. Studies that do exist tend to be descriptive, with a focus on the acceptability of the medium to support quitting, or an analysis of posts. A 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.

Monitoring and reporting social media activities presentation

Monitoring and reporting on social media activities

This presentation from A/Prof Penney Upton discusses the monitoring and reporting of social media activities, including:

  • reach
  • engagement
  • impact.

Please note: The presentation will start playing automatically when opened.