This offers information for research teams at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus that plan to use social media to recruit human subjects into research studies/clinical trials. Here's how to get started.
Review the Social Media Guidelines
Decide how you will promote your study through social media (options below)
If required, fill out a Social Media Request form
Review the Social Media Dos and Don’ts
Launch your social media campaign
When used appropriately, social media can be an effective tool for promoting research studies to targeted audiences. There are several ways that teams at CU Anschutz can use social media to promote and recruit for research studies. The best option for your team will depend on the scope and timeline of your study and whether you have budget available for paid advertisements. Please review the available options below.
Typically, the most effective way to reach targeted audiences on social media is through paid advertisements. Paid advertising campaigns use pre-determined demographics like age, gender, location and interests to reach a specific population and display study ads in targeted users’ newsfeeds. There are two ways to place paid research study ads: Through the official CU Anschutz Research Studies Facebook page or through a third-party agency.
Researchers have the option to ask campus groups or third-party organizations to post study information to their respective Facebook pages on behalf of your team. Typically this can be done free of charge. Facebook has millions of dedicated pages/groups for people with similar interests to discuss or share about a broad range of topics, including many official CU Anschutz-affiliated social media accounts. These accounts can be public or private, and social media users can follow or “like” the page/group/community to receive updates in their News Feed and interact with posted content.
Before proceeding with your campaign, please be sure to review the Guidelines for Using Social Media to Recruit Human Subjects to Research, as well as the Social Media Dos and Don’ts.
Study teams that wish to disseminate study recruitment content through social media must review and adhere to the following guidelines.Note: These guidelines are intended to address the use of social media as a recruitment tool, not as a forum for conducting research (e.g. collecting data, observing subjects/data mining through online forums, etc.).
We strongly recommend following these best practices when using social media for research study recruitment.
|DO review our CU Anschutz social media page for more information and best practices.|
DON’T rely on “organic” (unpaid) social media posts to recruit research subjects. Unless you have a significant following on social media, these types of posts are rarely effective at reaching target audiences.
DO align all study advertisements and materials with CU Anschutz brand guidelines. Using the university’s approved brand for your ads helps to convey a sense of credibility and trustworthiness to potential subjects while building recognition of research efforts. You can find branded templates in the CU Anschutz template library.
|DON’T create a separate social media account just for your study. Research teams wishing to advertise a research study must go through an official university social media account or third-party agency, as outlined in the options.|
DO create a landing page on the CU Anschutz Research Studies website, and direct potential subjects to this page in all social media ads/posts/content. For information on how to post your study to the Research Studies website, click here.
|DON’T message, tag or proactively reach out to potential subjects through social media. Individuals who reach out to a study team member via comments or private messaging should be provided with the contact details of the study team and directed to communicate about the study occur offline (e.g., phone) or via a secure, HIPAA-compliant approved platform.|
DO ensure the language on your Research Studies webpage is compelling, engaging, and easy to understand and navigate. Keep in mind many people who click on your ad/post may have never participated in a research study before. Be sure to include information on the time commitment and compensation involved to boost interest.
|DON’T use your personal social media accounts to purchase or place recruitment ads for research studies. Personal accounts may only be used to contact account/group/ page/community moderators to request they post IRB-approved study content on behalf of the research team.|
DO submit several variations of social media content (e.g., alternate images or text) for IRB approval, so the social media teams can make real-time adjustments to optimize campaign engagement. When writing ad text variations, consider the target audience. Concise language is best for social media to optimize the mobile-user experience.
|DON’T engage in arguments or negative dialogue related to your ad or post. Depending on the nature of the negative comment or message, you can either ignore it or refer the commenter to an offline forum where their questions/concerns can be addressed.|