Cancer and Social Media: A Comparison of Traffic about Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, and Other Reproductive Cancers on Twitter and Instagram

Emily K. Vraga, Anthony Stefanidis, Georgios Lamprianidis, Arie Croitoru, Andrew T. Crooks, Paul L. Delamater, Dieter Pfoser, Jacek R. Radzikowski, Kathryn H. Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social media are often heralded as offering cancer campaigns new opportunities to reach the public. However, these campaigns may not be equally successful, depending on the nature of the campaign itself, the type of cancer being addressed, and the social media platform being examined. This study is the first to compare social media activity on Twitter and Instagram across three time periods: #WorldCancerDay in February, the annual month-long campaigns of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) in October and Movember in November, and during the full year outside of these campaigns. Our results suggest that women’s reproductive cancers–especially breast cancer–tend to outperform men’s reproductive cancer–especially prostate cancer–across campaigns and social media platforms. Twitter overall generates substantially more activity than Instagram for both cancer campaigns, suggesting Instagram may be an untapped resource. However, the messaging for both campaigns tends to focus on awareness and support rather than on concrete actions and behaviors. We suggest health communication efforts need to focus on effective messaging and building engaged communities for cancer communication across social media platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-189
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the provost’s Multidisciplinary Research Initiative at George Mason University.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Comparative Study

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