icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

Using Social Media to Drive Public Health Outcomes

A person looks at a CARE Zambia Instagram post on their smartphone.

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?

What is social and behavior change communication?

Social and behavior change communication (SBCC) is the strategic use of communication to promote positive health outcomes based on proven theories and models of behavior change. SBCC employs a systematic process beginning with formative research and behavior analysis, followed by communication planning, implementation and monitoring, and evaluation. Audiences are carefully segmented, messages and materials are pre-tested, and mass media (which include radio, television, billboards, print material, internet), interpersonal channels (such as client-provider interaction, group presentations) and community mobilization are used to achieve defined behavior objectives.

Chart showing five stages of behavior change: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance.

Why should you conduct an SBCC campaign?

International development programs often use SBCC to drive public health outcomes – for example, to convince people that early childhood immunization, flu shots, COVID vaccines and boosters, etc., are safe and important. It can be used to convince pregnant women of the importance of prenatal care. It can be used to reduce acceptance of social norms around gender-based violence or to promote the importance of alternative fuels to protect the environment.

From late 2020 through 2022, CARE partnered with Meta to experiment with using social media as an SBCC modality. Together we addressed a diverse range of SBCC campaign topics such as COVID prevention behaviors, vaccine hesitancy, early childhood immunization, promoting maternal health, educating about positive nutrition, community trust, and reducing gender-based violence. CARE’s first campaign aimed to reduce COVID vaccine hesitancy across 19 countries. CARE country office teams joined Meta-led workshops to learn how to create relevant campaigns encouraging vaccine adoption. The country offices then developed locally led campaigns using best practices learned during the eight-week series. Some campaigns were tied to pre-existing, off-line programming.

Playbook chapters

Chapter 1: Campaign Planning

Learn the foundations of campaign planning, including audience research, budget calculation, and setting achievable goals and objectives. Read More

Read chapter 1

Chapter 2: Putting the Plan into Action

Get insight into putting your campaign plan to action how to design meaningful and impactful creatives. Read More

Read chapter 2

Chapter 3: Campaign Set Up

Dive into the steps you’ll need to take to build your campaign on Facebook or Instagram using Facebook’s Creative Hub and Ads Manager platforms. Read More

Read chapter 3

Chapter 4: Monitoring the Campaign

Learn CARE’s tips on monitoring campaign performance to maximize effectiveness and measure impact. Read More

Read chapter 4

Chapter 5: CARE Case Studies

Read about CARE's most memorable campaigns and what made each of them so unique. Read More

Read chapter 5


Check out CARE's final reflections on experimenting with social media for behavior change and program impact. Read More

Read the conclusion