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Utilizing Facebook and Automated Telephone Calls to Increase Adoption of a Local Smoke Alarm Installation Program

Frattaroli, Shannon, PhD, MPH; Schulman, Eric, MPS; McDonald, Eileen M., MS; Omaki, Elise C., MHS; Shields, Wendy C., MPH; Jones, Vanya, PhD, MPH; Brewer, William

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: July/August 2019 - Volume 25 - Issue 4 - p E27–E33
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000788
Research Reports: Research Full Report

Context: Innovative strategies are needed to improve the prevalence of working smoke alarms in homes. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report on the effectiveness of Facebook advertising and automated telephone calls as population-level strategies to encourage an injury prevention behavior.

Objective: We examine the effectiveness of Facebook advertising and automated telephone calls as strategies to enroll individuals in Baltimore City's Fire Department's free smoke alarm installation program.

Participants: We directed our advertising efforts toward Facebook users eligible for the Baltimore City Fire Department's free smoke alarm installation program and all homes with a residential phone line included in Baltimore City's automated call system.

Design: The Facebook campaign targeted Baltimore City residents 18 years of age and older. In total, an estimated 300 000 Facebook users met the eligibility criteria. Facebook advertisements were delivered to users' desktop and mobile device newsfeeds. A prerecorded message was sent to all residential landlines listed in the city's automated call system.

Results: By the end of the campaign, the 3 advertisements generated 456 666 impressions reaching 130 264 Facebook users. Of the users reached, 4367 individuals (1.3%) clicked the advertisement. The automated call system included approximately 90 000 residential phone numbers. Participants attributed 25 smoke alarm installation requests to Facebook and 458 to the automated call.

Conclusion: Facebook advertisements are a novel approach to promoting smoke alarms and appear to be effective in exposing individuals to injury prevention messages. However, converting Facebook message recipients to users of a smoke alarm installation program occurred infrequently in this study. Residents who participated in the smoke alarm installation program were more likely to cite the automated call as the impetus for their participation. Additional research is needed to understand the circumstances and strategies to effectively use the social networking site as a tool to convert passive users into active participants.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Injury Research and Policy, Baltimore, Maryland (Drs Frattaroli and Jones, Mr Schulman, and Mss McDonald, Omaki, and Shields); and Baltimore City Fire Department, Baltimore, Maryland (Mr Brewer).

Correspondence: Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, MPH, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Injury Research and Policy, 624 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205 (

This research project was conducted by the Center for Injury Research & Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, and in collaboration with the Baltimore City Fire Department.

This work was supported by funding from the Fire Prevention and Safety Program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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