Master of Science
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Burke, Shauna M.
The primary purpose of this study was to develop, implement, and evaluate the feasibility of a 10-week, evidence-based social media campaign (“iBelong@Western”) targeting the social connectedness of first-year university students (n = 30; Mage = 18.5, SD = 4.9) in London, Ontario. The secondary purpose was to explore participant perceptions of the campaign and its impact on social connectedness. Developed over a 3-month period using evidence-based approaches (e.g., participatory action research, SMILE framework), the campaign was implemented from March-May, 2023. Feasibility was assessed using social media analytics and data from one semi-structured interview; participant perceptions were explored using the latter only. Overall, results revealed that iBelong@Western demonstrated adequate feasibility and shows promise as a comprehensive, evidence-based knowledge translation tool designed to enhance social connectedness among first-year university students. While they cannot be generalized, the participant perspectives gathered may be useful in the development of future social media campaigns.
Summary for Lay Audience
Social connectedness plays an important role in the wellbeing and academic success of university students, especially during the transition to university. The main purpose of this study was to develop, implement, and evaluate the feasibility of an evidence-based, 10-week social media campaign (“iBelong@Western”), designed to enhance the social connectedness of first-year university students in London, Ontario. The secondary purpose was to explore participant perceptions of the campaign and its impact on social connectedness. The iBelong@Western social media campaign was developed, with input from a student research council, over a 3-month period. First-year university students were recruited (via social media, mass emails, class announcements, and word-of-mouth) to participate in the study, which included completing an online questionnaire, following the social media campaign, and completing an optional interview. Thirty students (Mage = 18.5, SD = 4.9; 64.0% female) participated in the study. The social media campaign was implemented on four social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) from March 6 – May 12, 2023. Three posts (Monday Mini-Challenge, Wednesday Wisdom, Friday Focus) were shared every week for 10 weeks. Feasibility was evaluated using social media analytics and data from one semi-structured interview; participant perceptions were explored via the latter only. Results revealed that the campaign had a relatively wide content reach, generating a high number of impressions (n = 10,832) across platforms. The Friday Focus posts yielded the highest overall level of engagement on Instagram and Twitter, whereas the Wednesday Wisdom posts generated the lowest engagement on these platforms. On LinkedIn, the Monday Mini-Challenge posts generated the highest engagement and the Friday Focus posts yielded the lowest. Among the platforms, Instagram had the highest levels of engagement, whereas Facebook yielded no engagement. Only one interview was conducted; as such, data pertaining to the participant’s perspectives cannot be generalized. Despite this, the insights shared during the participant interview provided meaningful feedback that can be used in the development of future social media campaigns. Taken together, the findings suggest that iBelong@Western demonstrated adequate feasibility and shows promise as an evidence-based tool designed to enhance social connectedness among first-year university students.
Vo, Julie, "The Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of an Evidence-Based Social Media Campaign Designed To Enhance Social Connectedness For First-Year University Students" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9619.