What motivates young adults to talk about physical activity on social network sites?

Zhang, Ni and Campo, Shelly and Yang, Jingzhen and Eckler, Petya and Snetselaar, Linda and Janz, Kathleen F. and Leary, Emily (2017) What motivates young adults to talk about physical activity on social network sites? Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19 (6). e226. ISSN 1438-8871 (https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.7017)

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Background: Electronic word-of-mouth on social network sites has been used successfully in marketing. In social marketing, electronic word-of-mouth about products as health behaviors has the potential to be more effective and reach more young adults than health education through traditional mass media. However, little is known about what motivates people to actively initiate electronic word-of-mouth about health behaviors on their personal pages or profiles on social network sites, thus potentially reaching all their contacts on those sites. Objective: This study filled the gap by applying a marketing theoretical model to explore the factors associated with electronic word-of-mouth on social network sites about leisure-time physical activity. Methods: A Web survey link was sent to undergraduate students at one of the Midwestern universities and 439 of them completed the survey. Results: The average age of the 439 participants was 19 years (SD=1 year, range: 18-24). Results suggested that emotional engagement with leisure-time physical activity (ie, affective involvement in leisure-time physical activity) predicted providing relevant opinions or information on social network sites. Social network site users who perceived stronger ties with all their contacts were more likely to provide and seek leisure-time physical activity opinions and information. People who provided leisure-time physical activity opinions and information were more likely to seek opinions and information, and people who forwarded information about leisure-time physical activity were more likely to chat about it. Conclusions: This study shed light on the application of the electronic word-of-mouth theoretical framework in promoting health behaviors. The findings can also guide the development of future social marketing interventions using social network sites to promote leisure-time physical activity.