Mobilizing Social Media Influencers for COVID-19 Prevention, Care, and Coping

Engaging community influencers to increase COVID‐19 prevention, stigma‐reduction, and coping steps in Wisconsin

Full Project Name:Mobilizing 1,000 Community Social Media Influencers for COVID-19 Prevention, Care & CopingPrincipal Investigator:Jeffrey A. Kelly, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineCo-Investigator:Yuri A. Amirkhanian, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine; Steven John, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine; Jennifer Walsh, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineAward Amount:$498,931
Award Date
April2020
Project Duration:9 months

Project Description Narrative:


COVID-19 is a public health threat throughout Wisconsin, with the greatest number of cases in Milwaukee County. Preventing COVID-19 requires population-level adherence to public health steps to contain transmission. Sustaining steps that require change in everyday social and activity patterns may be particularly difficult for young people who perceive lower personal threat, and older adults in disadvantaged communities. Prior research has shown that personally-known and trusted popular opinion leaders within social networks— friends, neighbors, and other network members—can be engaged as effective health behavior change advocates to their peers.

This project will rapidly implement a social media intervention to identify, recruit, and engage community volunteers to disseminate and endorse messages that increase COVID‐19 prevention, stigma‐reduction, and coping steps to others in their networks.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


  • Established a community advisory panel with representation from community agencies, particularly those active in Milwaukee’s inner-city north and southside neighborhoods, to continuously solicit input on new and emerging community concerns to create timely content that addressed evolving community needs
     
  • Engaged more than 1,200 social media influencers who reached an average of 4,671 unique social media users through an average of 8,648 posts, stories, check-ins, and other interactions weekly
     
  • Disseminated project outcomes and lessons learned through a published article in the AIDS and Behavior Journal as well as presentations

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