Use of a social networking web site for recruiting Canadian youth for medical research

Posted: Jul 07, 2014
J of Adolesc Health. 52. 6. 792-794.
KEYWORDS: Web, Non-Cancer


Facebook performance tracking allowed optimization of the advertising parameters and a change to a more effective recruitment strategy.

Why this item may be useful

Facebook allows advertisers to purchase space that displays banner advertisements and can be targeted to particular age groups and demographic characteristics. An advertisement highlighting the study was targeted to Facebook members who lived in Canada and were aged 15 to 24 years. Clicking on the advertisement led to a consent page with a detailed study description and then to an online survey. The campaign utilized a 'cost per click' strategy and the average cost per final subject was $15.35. Advertising performance data indicated that the highest click rate was on weekends. Therefore, the campaign was changed to run only on weekends and at a higher daily budget in order to reach the sample size more quickly. The study successfully recruited the required subjects, however, if the modified campaign approach were used earlier, the study could have been completed in 1-2 months. 


  • Access was restricted to one survey per IP address to prevent participants from completing the survey more than once. 
  • Participants were anonymous and no compensation was offered. 
  • Limitations to the use of Facebook include: the necessity of internet access, self-selection bias, inability to completely determine the representativeness of the sample.