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From the 6th Annual Shorty Awards

Smokefree Women: Facebook Engagement That Helps Save Lives

Entered in Facebook Page


Community engagement is more than just PR jargon or a trendy Facebook metric. For women trying to quit smoking, social media engagement can make the difference between breaking a dangerous addiction and relapsing. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and its agency partner, MMG, launched the Smokefree Women (SFW) Facebook page in 2009. Although the page quickly gathered “likes," engagement was low––especially two-way, un-prompted conversations between women trying to quit smoking. In its first two years, the SFW Facebook page primarily posted resources and tips to help women quit. Authentic quit smoking success stories from real women weren't the central focus, and the few stories that did exist were buried deep into the page with the advent of Timeline. To highlight women’s stories and encourage conversation in regards to quitting, our team revised the Facebook strategy to celebrate women’s stories through moderator posts. The new strategy was put in place in March of 2012, as part of the "Women Who Quit" campaign. From March 2012 to present, page likes, engagement, and the overall sense of community has dramatically increased. We see women helping each other on a daily basis, and many women who now check in to the page daily. We transformed the page from a megaphone through which we could disseminate resources into a true community where the women help each other and learn from each other, and we learn how we can better help them. Women smokers are more likely than men to make a quit attempt and look for quit smoking information online. It’s somewhat surprising that women have a 25% lower success rate than men! Stress, weight concerns, and a lack of support are all reasons many women relapse. Research shows that women actively use the internet to look for support groups to communicate with others about diseases and other health conditions. Evidence suggests that participation in online support groups provides health benefits and promotes health behavior change. Social media platforms, like Facebook, may satisfy a need for personal expression as well as a sense of belonging within these virtual communities. Since women respond favorably to personal testimonials, milestone references, and messaging portraying women as heroes, we knew we had to implement a strategy that provides women with the opportunity to share their personal quit story, and foster connections among the women to build a virtual support community through storytelling . Smokefree Women takes several approaches in order to make this community a virtual one. 1. Use moderator posts as a way to encourage engagement among the SFW community, to rally the “gals" around helping each other. This is done through several types of posts: --- a. Milestone posts: Celebrate the smokefree successes of the women who have quit. Acknowledge women who are celebrating milestones through a milestone post (example) along with personalized messaging designed to garner support and encouragement from other ladies. Showing milestones of various lengths (from set quit date to 24 hours to 8 years) women can both feel inspired by other people’s successes and feel like they are able to contribute something when offering advice. Many women have found “quit buddies" through the milestone posts. b. Let’s help a gal out: Women will pose questions to SFW, but due to the Timeline format, they may get lost in the page, especially when viewed on a mobile device. As moderators, we re-purpose certain questions and post them to our wall, with the invitation “Let’s help our gal Smokefree _____ out!" These questions garner a lot of great tips and advice that are helpful to the woman who originally asked, as well as others on the page. c. How long have you been smoke free? This question garners the most engagement every time it is asked. We tally up the gals’ responses and share with the group the amount of time that they, together, have been smoke free! d. Testimonials: When a woman has a particularly pithy piece of advice or an original tip, we create an image out of it to share with the community. These often get a great deal of shares and likes and a few comments. e. Ask for tips, reasons, motivation, what they wish they’d known: Periodically we will ask the gals for their favorite quit tip, their reason to be smokefree, what they wish they had known early on, and similar questions. These questions get a considerable number of comments from the group, as the women want to share their personal experiences. 2. Respond to each woman in a timely manner and questions to sustain engagement When women post questions or concerns directly to our wall, in comments, or in a private message, we respond within one business day with the appropriate resources and encouragement. The page, for some women, acts as a crucial source of support, and asking questions on top of providing resources shows that we (as moderators) are also engaged with the community. 3. Listen to what the women are talking about and craft web content to meet their needs Over the years, the women on the page have mentioned a variety of issues and questions related to quitting smoking that didn't come up before the strategy change. As a result, we developed a variety of new content resources on the website to address these questions and concerns that matter most to the community, such as weight management, stress, support, and e-cigarettes. Increasing the use of our community member’s stories, and encouraging them to engage, the SFW Facebook page not only achieved our goals, but exceeded them.: -323% increase in comments on the SFW page -745% increase in likes to the SFW page -1406% increase in followers of the SFW page Acknowledging and highlighting women’s personal stories, tips, and quit milestones in our moderator posts and responding to each woman personally, increased engagement on the page and the creation of a supportive community where women help each other to become and stay smokefree.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

MMG, Inc.


Entry Credits