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UBC Undergraduate Research

Health Promotion and Social Media Engagement of Students and UBC Recreation Oh, Julia; Lorenz, Morgan; Nipp, Jennifer; Stewart Hunter, Nikki; Leong, Karmen


The aim of this research paper was to explore current UBC Vancouver (UBCV) student’s motivation to follow or not follow UBC Recreation and Athletics (UBC Rec) social media pages, specifically Facebook and Instagram. Through our research, we identified strategies UBC Rec can use to get students more interested and engaged with their health-related content. Sedentary time among students has increased especially due to the COVID-19 lockdown (Romero-Blanco et al., 2020). As increases in sedentary time is positively associated with poor health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and obesity, increasing physical activity is of utmost importance as it would have profound effects on both the individual and society as a whole (Romero-Blanco et al., 2020). In order to approach our research question, we created an online survey consisting of 19 questions using Qualtrics. Survey questions were aimed at assessing students’ current status with UBC Rec social media pages. It included topics such as demographics, current physical activity levels, current engagement levels with UBC Rec content on social media, and recommendations for UBC Rec. The online survey was distributed through our personal social media accounts. This was done via private messaging and posting in large Facebook groups to increase exposure. After the recruitment period, we collected 61 responses and used a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis to decode open-ended questions into meaningful categories. Our data showed that most of our respondent profiles of UBC students have not previously been engaged in UBC Recreation programs or do not follow them on their social media pages. Most of the respondents shared interest in following UBC Recreation social media in order to get information on upcoming events on campus or to get inspiration for workouts. It is evident based on the assessed population that new techniques or communication outreach can be made in order to increase traction and engagement among the target population. Our findings led us to four recommendations to our project partner, UBC Rec. Our first recommendation is to use posts on Instagram as opposed to IGTVs or Reels. Our second recommendation is to post more about nutrition and quick workouts that students can easily follow while working from home or studying. Our third recommendation is to increase promotion by making media partnerships with other UBC organizations such as UBC Wellness and UBC Student Life. Lastly, we recommend that they use incentives and create fun challenges to increase flow to their content and social media pages. We hope that through our analysis and recommendations, UBC Rec will be able to better engage the student population to encourage physical activity and improve health and quality of life. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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