Background Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and deaths for older adults (>65 years) in BC, Canada, with an average 13 397 hospitalizations and over 500 fatalities each year. However, these injuries are preventable. Almost 62% of older adults who use the internet do so to search medical or health-related information, and 32% use social networking websites such as Facebook.
Objectives To determine whether Facebook advertisements are an effective communication tool for disseminating falls prevention messages and directing users to the FindingBalanceBC campaign website.
Methods Thirty advertisements promoting four evidence-informed falls prevention messages ran on Facebook from October 30 to November 30, 2017 (campaign period) through the FindingBalanceBC Facebook page. Messaging targeted community-dwelling older adults and their caregivers living in BC. Engagement with advertisements were measured through tracking clicks, comments, shares, and reactions.
Findings During the campaign period, 4470 people engaged with the advertisements, with 5583 link clicks, 321 reactions, 36 comments, and 181 shares. Advertisements were on screen a total of 3 35 114 times (impressions) and 1 40 049 people saw the advertisements at least once (reach). The FindingBalanceBC Facebook page received 188 new likes as a result of the advertising campaigns. The number of visits to the FindingBalanceBC website during this campaign period were comparable to previous years, where out-of-home and print advertising methods were used and Facebook advertisements were not.
Conclusion Facebook advertisements are an effective and low-cost method of engaging older adults and their caregivers in falls prevention communications. Further research is needed on best practices for composition of advertising content, for heightened engagement and assessing knowledge retention.
Policy implications Facebook advertising should be considered as an effective means to disseminate health promotion messages among older adults.