36251 HEADS up's Digital Recipe for Successfully Reaching Target Audiences

Jessica Burke, BA, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Chamblee, GA

Background:  Concussions can have a serious effect on a developing brain, causing short- and long-term problems affecting how a child thinks, acts, learns, and feels. While most kids and teens feel better a few weeks after a concussion, some will have symptoms that last for weeks, months, or even longer.

Program background:  CDC created the HEADS UP campaign to offer content for coaches, parents, school professionals, health care providers, and young athletes to help them learn how to recognize, respond to, and prevent concussion or other serious brain injury in sports and recreation.  CDC HEADS UP reaches multiple audiences by using a digital strategy that leverages a combination of multiple CDC and partner digital communication platforms: web, social media, and apps. On March 1, 2015 CDC launched an updated HEADS UP website that connects users to audience-specific content, integrates CDC digital channels, and makes content accessible from all devices. Additionally, CDC HEADS UP created a branded template for all images sent out through the HEADS UP social media channels that included the new HEADS UP website address.

Evaluation Methods and Results:  Page views, return visits, referrers, and operating system metrics were collected on the CDC HEADS UP website between 3/1/2015 and 4/14/2015. These metrics were compared to data collected in the previous 45 day time period (1/15/2015 to 2/28/2015). Comparing the last 45 days of the old HEADS UP website to the first 45 days of the new website, there was a 171% increase in page views, a 60% increase in traffic from social networks, and a 45% increase in new Facebook Likes. Along with increased visits to the site, there was a 94.43% increase in return visits. The new responsive design web template resulted in a 15% increase in mobile (tablet and phone) visits. To assess the branded image template, engagement metrics were collected for 32 branded and unbranded image posts on the CDC HEADS UP Facebook page over a six month period.  As compared to the unbranded Facebook images, the branded HEADS UP image posts had a 146% increase in Lifetime Post Total Reach and 187% increase in Lifetime Post Viral Reach. Additionally, the branded posts saw a 141% increase in Lifetime Post Total Impressions, a 186% increase in Lifetime Post Viral Impressions, and a 115% increase in Lifetime Engaged Users. 

Conclusions:  CDC HEADS UP's new website and branded image template helped expand the reach of concussion safety messages to the target audiences. Cross-promotion between CDC HEADS UP digital platforms (i.e. web and social media), emphasis on image- and audience- based messages, and improved accessibility on multiple devices were essential to significantly increasing dissemination and usage of CDC HEADS UP messages and digital platforms.

Implications for research and/or practice: The CDC HEADS UP recipe for expanding reach of messages through digital platforms can replicated by programs. Efforts should focus on using:

  • Images for social media that have a consistent image temple and incorporate a website address
  • Cross-promotion of web and social media platforms that include shareable, audience-specific messages.