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Can Non-Profits Use Social Media to Promote Public Health?

In late 2020, Meta approached CARE USA with an intriguing question: what if social media could drive social and behavior change for positive public health outcomes? After three years of experimenting, CARE’s playbook, Using Social Media to Drive Public Health Outcomes, lays out what we have learned about building effective campaigns to drive social change.

TL;DR: After three years of experimenting with social media as a way to effect public-health behavior change, CARE has put together a resource guide to help others use social media advertising to make a difference in people’s lives.

  • Built by practitioners, for practitioners, CARE’s playbook, Using Social Media to Drive Public Health Outcomes, shares a step-by-step guide to building effective campaigns to drive social change
  • Learn online through a series of video lessons on our web version of the playbook.
  • The playbook incorporates CARE’s lessons learned and case studies from the 60+ campaigns run since 2020.

Social and behavior change communication (SBCC), or the strategic use of communication approaches to shift knowledge, attitude, behavior, social norms, or beliefs, was not new to CARE. Our staff has delivered SBCC campaigns through one-on-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many conversations in villages and communities to increase awareness about public health, gender-based violence, economic resilience, food security, climate change, and education. Scaling SBCC campaigns to entire regions through social media, however, was a new endeavor.

CARE’s playbook guides readers through the steps to launch, run, and evaluate a social and behavior change communication campaign through Meta’s advertising platform. CARE’s web version of the playbook also offers a series of video lessons.

The playbook begins with teaching the foundations of campaign planning, including audience research, budget calculation, and setting achievable goals and objectives. CARE also has an easy-to-follow template available to guide campaign planning.

Chapter two brings the campaign to life. Once the campaign plan has been drafted, reviewed, and finalized, it’s time to create the content. CARE’s creative best practices video below offers a sneak peek into how our web playbook outlines setting up an SBCC campaign:

CARE’s playbook is for those experienced with Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns as well as newcomers. From ad account set up and using Creative Hub for ad mockups, to using Ads Manager to build a campaign, CARE has simple demo videos to answer questions.

The playbook goes beyond campaign planning and execution, to guiding readers through performance evaluation as well. Once a campaign is up and running, monitoring performance offers valuable insights on what is working (or not), plus the adjustments needed to maximize effectiveness. Measuring success of online campaigns is difficult, so CARE’s playbook lays out some strategies for impact measurement, whether it’s using Meta’s Brand Lift Studies, outbound links, or campaign surveys.

Since CARE began experimenting with social media as a method for SBCC, we have compiled case studies about the campaigns. We documented how (and why) some campaigns performed exceptionally well whereas others failed to drive change. We also found that some campaigns were negatively affected by context events such as elections, while others established two-way communications between CARE and the audience.

CARE hopes other practitioners will learn from our trial and error and build from there. Towards that end, CARE launched an ad campaign that targeted practitioners in the USA, Canada, and UK. In the first month of launch, the playbook has been accessed 12,494 times and downloaded 104 times.

“Experimentation with online SBCC affords NGOs the opportunity to deepen and strengthen their organizational capacity and capability around social and behavior change communication,” said Jessica Kirkwood, Associate Vice President of Support Engagement. “While CARE learned a lot, there are questions that still challenge us. We’re excited to keep exploring and testing to better understand what levers best drive impact in knowledge, attitude, and behavior changes across a variety of topics.”

CARE hopes this playbook proves helpful to anyone considering experimenting with social media as a tool for social and behavior change communication.

Note: The Meta platform tools and features we refer to in this playbook were versions available during 2020-23, when CARE ran these experiments. As an ever-evolving platform, Meta’s tools are subject to change, so there may be new or different versions of these tools available for future SBCC campaigns. Practitioners should keep this in mind as they move forward and refer to Meta help pages to get more information on the tools.



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