How Effective Is Health Care Messaging on Skin Care and Cancer Risks?
According to the American Cancer Society, about 76,100 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the United States in 2014. With swimsuit and outdoor sports season coming back again, we wanted to find out if messages about melanoma and skin cancer prevention are sticking with consumers? Are people talking about skin cancer risks on social media, and how do they discuss preventive measures?
Using Crimson Hexagon’s social media analytics tool ForSight™, we looked at the social conversation around sunburns and moles from January 1, 2013 to April 17, 2014. With our social data library of over 430 billion posts, we can efficiently analyze conversation across seasons, without hitting mention limits.
When looking specifically at sunburn discussion, ForSight found that 49% of the conversation is lifecasting, or people simply stating that they have a sunburn. Another 23% is users complaining about the painful symptoms they’re experiencing after getting burnt.
Relief and treatment tips are also part of the conversation, with 10% offering suggestions for how to both prevent and treat sunburns. This proportion of the conversation has grown by 13% over time. While the volume of total posts drastically drops after the summer of 2013, the segment of the conversation that is about sun care advice increases in the autumn and winter months. In the summer, however, more users complained about their sunburns and the ensuing pain than those who actually provided guidance on prevention or relief.
When looking deeper at how people are discussing sunburns, ForSight found that most state that their face is burnt or peeling. According to the American Cancer Society, most basal and squamous cell skin cancers develop on sun-exposed surfaces like the face, ears or lips. This high volume of posts about users’ face or nose being burnt is alarming considering the associated melanoma risk.
Some even admit to understanding the risks and symptoms of excessive sun exposure but choose to ignore them. Around 10% of posts state that they never wear or forgot to wear sunscreen, while another 4% admit to enjoying getting sunburnt because it means they’ll bronze up after.
I never wear sunscreen because I never really burn just tan… I should probably start #BadHabit
I got so sunburnt, but I’m glad bc it’ll turn into a tan
— Cheyenne Johnson (@WuddupItsCheyy) August 25, 2013
When exploring the social conversation around moles, most users (47%) state that they are planning on or have already had a mole removed. Though these posts do not explicitly mention a link between the moles and cancer, another 5% of users state that they, at one point, had a malignant mole. Around 22% of posts voice concern over a new or changing mole. People who express concern on social media may find solace in the fact that another 22% of posts include tips on how to detect melanoma, with a particular focus on the ABCDEs of checking moles at home.
Unlike the sunburn discussion, topics of conversation about moles remain relatively consistent throughout the entire timeframe. The volume of posts does not dramatically drop at the end of the summer and the relative proportions of topics stay very much the same. Comparing the two social conversations further using ForSight’s Affinities feature, we found that users discussing moles are 15 times more likely to be interested in “nutrition” and 9 times more likely to be interested in the topic of “healthcare” than users discussing sunburns. It appears that those engaging in the mole conversation are more seriously focused on issues of health and well-being than users discussing sunburns. Professionals working in the skincare and healthcare industries can draw key insights from these two social conversations. While the discussion of moles focuses on prevention and possible links to skin cancer, sunburn conversation includes people saying they are aware of the consequences but not fully working to counteract them. Using ForSight to listen in to individual’s natural, unsolicited conversation about skincare points toward messaging and campaign content around the dangers of cavalier attitudes about tanning and burning, using customers’ own ways of talking about sun exposure. In addition, our historical analysis of conversation over several seasons uncovers that proactive sun care discussion has grown during the fall and winter months, a window of time that currently may be untapped. Fall and winter might be good timing to capitalize on this interest in skincare. To see further social analysis of consumers’ unsolicited conversation about healthcare and health topics, please check out our blog.