Binge drinking is a common and widely accepted behavior for some young adults. While many young adults know about the negative health consequences that can come as a result of binge drinking, many partake anyway. Unfortunately, many health campaigns do not speak to young adults in a relatable, relevant way nor through the channels where young adults communicate.
“Check Yourself” is a health communications campaign that works to reduce binge drinking among Vermont young adults through digital strategies and by sharing binge drinking information through the lens of what motivates young adults’ behaviors. Informed directly by formative research with members of the target audience, Check Yourself presents realistic, relatable binge drinking consequences in a conversational tone and shows the audience how to avoid these consequences. For example, the campaign highlights how drinking water between drinks and eating before drinking can reduce the risk of getting too drunk. Check Yourself follows the tone and voice of popular social media personalities, making campaign information digestible for an audience that participates in binge drinking behaviors frequently.
Evaluation Methods and Results:
Message recall improves as exposure to messaging increases. The goal of Check Yourself is to repeatedly expose the audience to binge drinking reduction information, and present information in a brief, memorable, and relevant way. The following metrics provided the Check Yourself campaign with tangible outcomes:
Website Visits: The Check Yourself website houses all campaign information, videos, and links to other campaign platforms. The website received over 12,000 views in its first year.
Website Visit Duration: Getting the audience to the website is not enough, we needed to make sure they are engaging with the content and receiving campaign information. We measured time spent on site, which was on average 4 minutes, indicating that content was relevant and of interest.
Video Views: The campaign featured three online videos that served as foundational campaign elements. They were rich with information and established the brand voice and tone as appealing and relevant to pop culture. Promoted via Facebook, Youtube and Instagram, these videos received 231,333 views during one year of implementation.
Social Media Impressions: It is essential to meet the target audience where they are, and so social media was a crucial implementation strategy for Check Yourself. Facebook, Youtube and Instagram were primary platforms, and cumulatively achieved 2,843,855 impressions over the first year.
Social Media Engagements (Likes, Clicks, Shares, Views, Comments): Check Yourself also sought to elicit engagement from the audience. Across the three social media platforms, Check Yourself achieved 30,628 engagements.
Develop data-driven, culturally relevant digital experiences can ultimately, work to dissuade a very socially accepted behavior.
Implications for research and/or practice: Public health professionals seeking to address binge drinking behaviors should carefully consider the tone and message of their campaigns to align with the culture of the highest-risk drinkers in the target community and use digital strategies to increase message exposure and recall.