Tracking Anti-Smoking Campaign Effects Online

The use of social media has grown exponentially over the last several years.  In fact, most television programs and televised advertising have a social media component, designed to expand reach and engagement with the audience.   To date, the tobacco control community has relied on traditional media—paid television, radio, billboard and print media advertising—to promote their messages.

On March 19, 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched Tips from Former Smokers.  This campaign was the CDC’s largest anti-smoking campaign ever and its first national advertising effort.  The campaign will last four months and consist of both traditional and social media. The Health Media Collaboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, directed by Sherry Emery, PhD, will measure and evaluate a key social media component of the campaign—its Twitter reach and impact.

Using DiscoverText with GNIP’s Power Track  provides full access to Twitter’s Firehose. This is in contrast to Twitter’s publicly available API stream, which provides only a 1% sample of tweets.  Because the volume of tweets for health social media campaigns are relatively low, every tweet matters.   Access to GNIP’s premium Twitter feed allows us to capture all tweets and metadata for the campaign.

The use of DiscoverText to sift through tweets and code for content provides a useful tool for measuring online public engagement, audience sentiment, and campaign discourse.

The Collaboratory will report on the overall reach and audience engagement of the campaign through an analysis of unique users reached, number of retweets, and mentions.  This information will not only track the engagement of individual users but also measure the engagement of state tobacco control programs in the campaign.  A sentiment analysis will be conducted on tweets to gauge the emotional valence of the campaign and individual television ads.  Finally, using root keywords for quitting and smoking uptake, the numbers of twitter users that express interest in quitting or prevention will be reported.

For more information about this project, visit or follow @GLENszczypka for updates. Research funded by the National Cancer Institute (Grant No. 1U01CA154254).

About Glen Szczypka

Glen Szczypka observes media for the Health Media Collaboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has integrated both television ratings and social media metadata into datasets for the analyses of exposures to health related advertising, including anti-tobacco, anti-drug, and anti-obesity campaigns. He has worked with the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health to create exposure indices for state sponsored anti-tobacco advertising which were published in the agency’s Tobacco Control State Highlights Report.
This entry was posted in DiscoverText, general, GNIP, product, Twitter and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.