Exploring the viability of using online social media advertising as a recruitment method for smoking cessation clinical trials

Posted: Aug 29, 2017
Nicotine Tob Res. 16. 2. 247-51.
KEYWORDS: Verbal Communications, Web, Social Media, Print Media, Brochure or Flyer, Non-Cancer


Social media sites provide advantages over traditional recruitment methods and may reach smokers who are unreceptive to traditional methods.

Why this item may be useful

The demographic profile and smoking characteristics of participants recruited using traditional strategies were compared with those recruited through online social media advertising to assess the viability of using social media to recruit a representative community sample. Five Facebook ads were used during the campaign. Of the methods used, only the online and newspaper ads involved significant expenditure: overall, online advertising cost twice as much per participant recruited compared with using traditional media. Overall, the two subsamples of participants were well matched. Participants recruited via social media were significantly younger, but no other significant differences between the groups were found in education, ethnicity, income, gender of smoking characteristics.


  • Of the 266 participants recruited and enrolled, half (51.9%) learned about the study through a Facebook ad, 36.1% by newspaper ad, 6.4% by word of mouth, and 4/5% from a flyer. 
  • The 2 Facebook ads generated 14,553,074 impressions, 6,136 clicks at an average cost of AUD$0.95/click.