Technology Tuesdays: Facebook Is a Gathering Place for Potential Enrollees

By Arie Stock

This blog is part of Enroll America’s Technology Tuesdays blog series.

As we begin to plan outreach campaigns for 2013 and think about how and where to find the uninsured, physical places like shopping centers, schools, places of worship, and community-based organizations all come to mind. But the new millennium has potentially made this process a whole lot easier, thanks to the popularity of Internet “gathering places” that—you may be surprised to learn–attract people from just about every demographic. Of these new Internet hot spots, Facebook is showing signs that it’s here to stay.

A recent Businessweek article reported that Facebook’s market value amounts to over $100 billion, surpassing the market values of investment giant Citigroup and snack king PepsiCo Inc., and eclipsing Google Inc.’s initial valuation in 2004. Such success may come as a surprise to people who tagged Facebook as the “latest fad” and expected it to fizzle out like other social networking platforms, not to mention Beanie Babies and Pogs (remember them?). Facebook is increasingly becoming the online hot spot of choice for Internet users, and it repeatedly debunks myths of its narrow appeal. When thinking about how to effectively use Facebook as an outreach tool, you may be thinking…  

“Only teenagers and college students use Facebook. What about everyone else?”

Actually, according to a 2011 Pew study (Click on the image to the right to access the complete Pew report that contains the chart), only 16 percent of Facebook users are aged 18 to 22. The remaining 84 percent are spread across age groups: one-third of Facebook users are aged 23 to 35, a quarter are aged 36 to 49, and nearly one in five are aged 50 to 65.

“Okay, okay, okay. So Facebook is not limited to younger people, but how much of the country actually uses Facebook?”

According to the same Pew study, 79 percent of American adults use the Internet, and 59 percent of those people use social networking sites. Of those people who use social networking sites, the vast majority—92 percent—use Facebook! In short, we’re talking tens of millions of people.

“Okay, so plenty of people have a Facebook profile, but I have one and I rarely use it. How often do people really go on Facebook?”

Frequency of Facebook usage varies by age group. Nearly one in five young adults aged 23 to 35 who use Facebook check it once or more each day. This number drops to one in 10 for adults aged 36 to 49. But more than half of people aged 23 to 35, and more than one-third of people aged 36 to 49, who use Facebook check it at least once a week. So, many individuals, regardless of age, regularly check to see what’s going on in the world of Facebook.

So, what does all this mean? It means that anyone looking to maximize health care enrollment in 2013 and beyond should at least consider the role that Facebook can play in reaching the uninsured. Stay tuned for tips on how to incorporate this social media powerhouse into your outreach strategies.

Feedback Encouraged: This blog, and this series in particular, is intended to encourage discussion and brainstorming. Do you think a certain strategy or technology would work particularly well in simplifying enrollment into health coverage? What are the pitfalls or hurdles to overcome? What has your organization or state already tried that did or did not work well? We welcome your ideas via email (inquiries@enrollamerica.org), and in future blogs, we hope to highlight some of the feedback we receive.

 

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