Gay Facebook: Examining User Engagement in Health Service Organizations Serving Vancouver's Virtual GBTQ Communities

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Facebook is increasingly used by community-based organizations (CBOs) to improve the wellbeing of gay and bisexual men. However, few empirical studies have explored the network structure and diffusion of information within these communities.

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Background: Online social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have grown rapidly in popularity, with opportunities for interaction enhancing their health promotion potential. Such platforms are being used for sexual health promotion but with varying success in reaching and engaging users. We aimed to identify Facebook and Twitter profiles that were able to engage large numbers of users, and to identify strategies used to successfully attract and engage users in sexual health promotion on these platforms. Methods: We identified active Facebook (n = 60) and Twitter (n = 40) profiles undertaking sexual health promotion through a previous systematic review, and assessed profile activity over a one-month period. Quantitative measures of numbers of friends and followers (reach) and social media interactions were assessed, and composite scores used to give profiles an 'engagement success' ranking. Associations between host activity, reach and interaction metrics were explored. Content of the top ten ranked Facebook and Twitter profiles was analysed using a thematic framework and compared with five poorly performing profiles to identify strategies for successful user engagement. Results: Profiles that were able to successfully engage large numbers of users were more active and had higher levels of interaction per user than lower-ranked profiles. Strategies used by the top ten ranked profiles included: making regular posts/tweets (median 46 posts or 124 tweets/month for top-ranked profiles versus six posts or six tweets for poorly-performing profiles); individualised interaction with users (85% of top-ranked profiles versus 0% for poorly-performing profiles); and encouraging interaction and conversation by posing questions (100% versus 40%). Uploading multimedia material (80% versus 30%) and highlighting celebrity involvement (70% versus 10%) were also key strategies. Conclusion: Successful online engagement on social networking platforms can be measured through quantitative (user numbers and interactions) and basic qualitative content analysis. We identified the amount and type of host activity as key strategies for success, and in particular, regular individualised interaction with users, encouraging conversation, uploading multimedia and relevant links, and highlighting celebrity involvement. These findings provide valuable insight for achieving a high level of online engagement through social networking platforms to support successful health promotion initiatives.
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It is a common practice that merchants selling products on the Web ask their customers to review the products and associated services. As e-commerce is becoming more and more popular, the number of customer reviews that a product receives grows rapidly. For a popular product, the number of reviews can be in hundreds. This makes it difficult for a potential customer to read them in order to make a decision on whether to buy the product. In this project, we aim to summarize all the customer reviews of a product. This summarization task is different from traditional text summarization because we are only interested in the specific features of the product that customers have opinions on and also whether the opinions are positive or negative. We do not summarize the reviews by selecting or rewriting a subset of the original sentences from the reviews to capture their main points as in the classic text summarization. In this paper, we only focus on mining opinion/product features that the reviewers have commented on. A number of techniques are presented to mine such features. Our experimental results show that these techniques are highly effective.
Background: The objective of this study was to explore the relationship between online sex-seeking, community/social attachment and sexual behaviour. Methods: Respondent-driven sampling was used to recruit 774 sexually active gay and bisexual men in Vancouver, Canada, aged ≥16 years. Multivariable logistic regression compared men who had used online sex-seeking apps/websites in the past 6 months (n = 586) with those who did not (n = 188). Results: Multivariable results showed that online sex seekers were more likely to be younger [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 0.95, 95% CI: (0.93–0.96)], college educated [aOR = 1.60, 95% CI: (1.07, 2.40)], have more Facebook friends [aOR = 1.07, 95% CI: (1.01, 1.13)], spend more social time with other gay men [aOR = 1.99, 95% CI: (1.33–2.97)], and were less likely to identify emotionally with the gay community [aOR = 0.93, 95% CI: (0.86–1.00)]. Further, they had displayed high sensation-seeking behaviour [aOR = 1.08, 95% CI: (1.03–1.13)], were more likely to engage in serodiscordant/unknown condomless anal sex [aOR = 2.34, 95% CI: (1.50–3.66)], use strategic positioning [aOR = 1.72, 95% CI: (1.08–2.74)], ask their partner’s HIV-status prior to sex [aOR = 2.06, 95% CI: (1.27–3.37)], and have ever been tested for HIV [aOR = 4.11, 95% CI: (2.04–8.29)]. Conclusion: These findings highlight the online and offline social behaviour exhibited by gay and bisexual men, pressing the need for pro-social interventions to promote safe-sex norms online. We conclude that both Internet and community-based prevention will help reach app/web users.
Background Social media provides unprecedented opportunities for enhancing health communication and health care, including self-management of chronic conditions such as diabetes. Creating messages that engage users is critical for enhancing message impact and dissemination. Purpose This study analyzed health communications within ten diabetes-related Facebook pages to identify message features predictive of user engagement. Method The Common-Sense Model of Illness Self-Regulation and established health communication techniques guided content analyses of 500 Facebook posts. Each post was coded for message features predicted to engage users and numbers of likes, shares, and comments during the week following posting. Results Multi-level, negative binomial regressions revealed that specific features predicted different forms of engagement. Imagery emerged as a strong predictor; messages with images had higher rates of liking and sharing relative to messages without images. Diabetes consequence information and positive identity predicted higher sharing while negative affect, social support, and crowdsourcing predicted higher commenting. Negative affect, crowdsourcing, and use of external links predicted lower sharing while positive identity predicted lower commenting. The presence of imagery weakened or reversed the positive relationships of several message features with engagement. Diabetes control information and negative affect predicted more likes in text-only messages, but fewer likes when these messages included illustrative imagery. Similar patterns of imagery’s attenuating effects emerged for the positive relationships of consequence information, control information, and positive identity with shares and for positive relationships of negative affect and social support with comments. Conclusions These findings hold promise for guiding communication design in health-related social media.
Social networking sites (SNSs) have the potential to increase the reach and efficiency of essential public health services, such as surveillance, research, and communication. The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic literature review to identify the use of SNSs for public health research and practice and to identify existing knowledge gaps. We performed a systematic literature review of articles related to public health and SNSs using PubMed, EMBASE, and CINAHL to search for peer-reviewed publications describing the use of SNSs for public health research and practice. We also conducted manual searches of relevant publications. Each publication was independently reviewed by 2 researchers for inclusion and extracted relevant study data. A total of 73 articles met our inclusion criteria. Most articles (n=50) were published in the final 2 years covered by our search. In all, 58 articles were in the domain of public health research and 15 were in public health practice. Only 1 study was conducted in a low-income country. Most articles (63/73, 86%) described observational studies involving users or usages of SNSs; only 5 studies involved randomized controlled trials. A large proportion (43/73, 59%) of the identified studies included populations considered hard to reach, such as young individuals, adolescents, and individuals at risk of sexually transmitted diseases or alcohol and substance abuse. Few articles (2/73, 3%) described using the multidirectional communication potential of SNSs to engage study populations. The number of publications about public health uses for SNSs has been steadily increasing in the past 5 years. With few exceptions, the literature largely consists of observational studies describing users and usages of SNSs regarding topics of public health interest. More studies that fully exploit the communication tools embedded in SNSs and study their potential to produce significant effects in the overall population's health are needed.
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