February 1, 2021

Improving attitudes about mask wearing via Facebook ad campaigns

By: Nuo Chen, Michael Sullivan

Wearing masks is an important part of the COVID-19 response, but the adoption of mask-wearing varies by geography and demographics. We know from the literature that social norms and attitudes around mask-wearing are among the factors that determine whether people actually wear masks. To help meet this urgent need, we recently evaluated two campaigns leveraging social norms and attitudes to improve mask-wearing behavior. These campaigns were run on our ads platform and measured using Brand Lift.

The first campaign used interest-based targeting of posts by public figures posting with the #wearamask hashtag. Within two days of people’s seeing the ad, we asked them via survey: “When you think of most people whose opinions you value, how much would they approve of you wearing a mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19?” Of those in the control group, 69.4 percent selected “A great deal” or “Quite a bit,” and 77.4 percent of those in the test group selected these desired options (other responses were “Somewhat,” “A little,” and “Not at all”). Thus, this campaign resulted in an eight-point increase at 99 percent confidence in the percentage of those reporting in-group approval for personal mask-wearing. That represents over 2 million people out of the 26 million who were reached during the campaign.

The second was the “You Will See Me” ad campaign developed by the Ad Council in partnership with the CDC and CDC Foundation. It was designed for Black Americans, considering the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on the Black community. We then asked the following via survey: “In the last 2 days, how often did you wear a mask in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)?” 79.4 percent who were exposed to the campaign answered “Often” or “Always” versus 75.5 percent in the control group (other responses were “Sometimes,” “Rarely,” and “Never”). Thus, this campaign resulted in more than a three-point increase at 99 percent confidence in those reporting wearing masks in public frequently. That represents over 200,000 people out of six million who were reached during the campaign.

The results demonstrate that interventions like these can have significant impact, and we’re now working with public health partners to scale similar projects as part of our COVID-19 response. For more information about what Facebook is doing to keep people safe and informed about the coronavirus, read the latest updates on Newsroom.