There is no research investigating indoor tanning advertising on social media. We assessed the use of social media to promote indoor tanning. We subscribed to social media platforms in six US cities and content-analyzed promotional messages received. We captured 662 messages on Twitter and Facebook, through salon emails, and in daily deal coupons. Salon postings were most frequent on Twitter and Facebook, with an average of 2–3 postings per week. National chains posted more frequently than local businesses. Forty percent of messages were devoid of tanning content and included photos, jokes, or popular references. Thirty percent mentioned price reductions, and 28 % referenced an upcoming holiday. Sunless tanning (17 %) was promoted more often than ultraviolet tanning (9 %). Tanning salons actively use social media as a strategy for maintaining relationships with customers and offer pricing deals that promote loyalty and high-frequency tanning.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
The use of trade names within this paper is for identification purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the Department of Health and Human Services.
We selected only four indoor tanning salons in Akron because we were unable to identify five that met our inclusion criteria.
We used Tweets to evaluate content differences by salon chain status because the data collection period for Twitter was longer than that for Facebook.
Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al. eds. SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975–2012, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD. Available at http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/ 1975_2012/, based on November 2014 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2015. Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
Jemal A, Saraiya M, Patel P, et al. Recent trends in cutaneous melanoma incidence and death rates in the United States, 1992–2006. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011; 65(5 suppl 1): S17.e01-S17.e11.
Edwards BK, Noone AM, Mariotto AB, et al. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2010, featuring prevalence of comorbidity and impact on survival among persons with lung, colorectal, breast, or prostate cancer. Cancer. 2014; 120(9): 1290-1314.
Guy GP Jr, Thomas CC, Thompson T, Watson M, Massetti GM, Richardson LC. Vital signs: melanoma incidence and mortality trends and projections—United States, 1982–2030. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015; 64: 1-6.
Pollack LA, Li J, Berkowitz Z, et al. Melanoma survival in the United States, 1992 to 2005. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011; 65(5 suppl 1): S78.e01-S78.e10.
Bristow BN, Casil J, Sorvillo F, Basurto-Davila R, Kuo T. Melanoma-related mortality and productivity losses in the USA, 1990–2008. Melanoma Res. 2013; 23: 331-335.
Ekwueme DU, Guy GP, Li C, Rim SH, Parelkar P, Chen SC. The health burden and economic costs of cutaneous melanoma mortality by race/ethnicity—United States, 2000 to 2006. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011; 65(5 suppl 1): S133-S143.
Burdon-Jones D, Thomas P, Baker R. Quality of life issues in nonmetastatic skin cancer. Br J Dermatol. 2010; 162(1): 147-151.
Weir HK, Marrett LD, Cokkinides V, et al. Melanoma in adolescents and young adults (ages 15–39 years): United States, 1999–2006. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011; 65(5 suppl 1): S38-S49.
Guy GP, Ekwueme DU. Years of potential life lost and indirect costs of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer: a systematic review of the literature. Pharm. 2011; 29(10): 863-74.
Guy G, Machlin SR, Ekwueme DU, Yabroff KR. Prevalence and costs of skin cancer treatment in the U.S., 2002–2006 and 2007–2011. Am J Prev Med. 2015; 48(2): 183-187.
Armstrong BK, Kricker A. The epidemiology of UV induced skin cancer. J Photochem Photobiol B Biol. 2001; 63(1–3): 8-18.
Armstrong BK, Kricker A. How much melanoma is caused by sun exposure? Melanoma Res. 1993; 3(6): 395-401.
Lucas RM, McMichael AJ, Armstrong BK, Smith WT. Estimating the global disease burden due to ultraviolet radiation exposure. Int J Epidemiol. 2008; 37(3): 654-667.
Lazovich D, Vogel RI, Berwick M, et al. Indoor tanning and risk of melanoma: a case–control study in a highly exposed population. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010; 19: 1557-1568.
Zhang M, Qureshi AA, Geller AC, Frazier L, Hunter DJ, Han J. Use of tanning beds and incidence of skin cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2012; 30: 1588-1593.
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Use of indoor tanning devices by adults—United States, 2010. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012; 61(18): 323-326.
Heckman CJ, Coups EJ, Manne SL. Prevalence and correlates of indoor tanning among US adults. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008; 58: 769-78.
Choi K, Lazovich D, Southwell B, Forster J, Rolnick SJ, Jackson J. Prevalence and characteristics of indoor tanning use among men and women in the United States. Arch Dermatol. 2010; 146: 1356-1361.
Wehner MR, Chren M, Nameth D, et al. International prevalence of indoor tanning: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Dermatol. 2014; 150(4): 390-400.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent skin cancer. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2014.
Hoerster KD, Garrow RL, Mayer JA, et al. Density of indoor tanning facilities in 116 large U.S. cities. Am J Prev Med. 2009; 36: 243-246.
Brouse CH, Hillyer GC, Basch CE, Neugut AI. Geography, facilities, and promotional strategies used to encourage indoor tanning in New York City. J Community Health. 2011; 36: 635-639.
Freeman S, Francis S, Lundahl K, Bowland T, Dellavalle RP. UV tanning advertisements in high school newspapers. Arch Dermatol. 2006; 142: 460-462.
Kwon HT, Mayer JA, Walker KK, Yu H, Lewis EC, Belch GE. Promotion of frequent tanning sessions by indoor tanning facilities: two studies. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002; 46: 700-705.
Greenman J, Jones DA. Comparison of advertising strategies between the indoor tanning and tobacco industries. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010; 62: 685.e1-685.e18.
Duggan M, Ellison NB, Lampe C, Lenhart A, Madden M. Demographics of key social networking platforms. Available at http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/demographics-of-key-social-networking-platforms-2/. Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
Mitchell A. State of the News Media 2014. Available at http://www.journalism.org/2014/03/26/state-of-the-news-media-2014-overview/. Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
Interactive Advertising Bureau. At $11.6 billion in Q1 2014, Internet advertising revenues hit all-time first quarter high ‘Figure marks 19% year-over-year increase, according to IAB Internet advertising revenue report’. Available at http://www.iab.com/at-11-6-billion-in-q1-2014-internet-advertising-revenues-hit-all-time-first-quarter-high/. Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
Slater A, Tiggemann M, Hawkins K, Werchon D. Just one click: a content analysis of advertisements on teen web sites. J Adolesc Health. 2012; 50: 339-345.
Shetty B, Wind J. Advertisers should act more like newsrooms. Available at https://hbr.org/2013/02/advertisers-need-to-act-more-like-newsrooms. Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce-Minority Staff. False and misleading health information provided to teens by the indoor tanning industry. Investigative Report. Available at http://www.medicine.uiowa.edu/uploadedFiles/Departments/ Dermatology/Content/About_Us/Investigative%20report.pdf. Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
Team V, Markovic M. Internet advertising of artificial tanning in Australia. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2006; 15(4): 371-376.
De Maleissye MF, Fay-Chatelard F, Beauchet A, Saiag P, Mahé E. Compliance with indoor tanning advertising regulations in France. Br J Dermatol. 2011; 164(4): 880-822.
Georgios T, Sergios D. Brand strategies in social media. Mark Intell Plan. 2014; 32(3): 328-344.
Business News Daily. Marketing to millennials: how to capture Gen Y consumers. Available at http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6602-selling-to-generation-y.html/. Accessibility verified November 13, 2015.
Generation Y. Marketing to generation Y. Just get the basics right! Available at http://www.generationy.com/marketing-to-generation-y-millennials/. Accessibility verified November 13, 2015.
Lister C, Royne M, Payne HE, Cannon B, Hanson C, Barnes M. The laugh model: reframing and rebranding public health through social media. Am J Public Health. 2015; 105: 2245-2251.
Køster B, Thorgaard C, Philip A, Clemmensen IH. Sunbed use and campaign initiatives in the Danish population, 2007–2009: a cross-sectional study. J Eur Acad Dermatol. 2011; 25: 1351-1355.
Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. Fact sheet 5. Tobacco product marketing restrictions. Federal regulation of tobacco: impact on state and local authority. Available at http://publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/fda-5.pdf. Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division. Division 119 registration of tanning facilities. Available at http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_300/oar_333/333_119.html. Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
New York State Office of the Attorney General. A.G. Schneiderman announces agreements barring national tanning salon chain Hollywood tans and Manhattan franchise from making health claims. Available at http://www.ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-agreements-barring-national-tanning-salon-chain-hollywood. Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For industry: using social media. Available at http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofMedicalProductsandTobacco/CDER/ucm397791.htm, Accessibility verified November 14, 2015.
Seidenberg AB, Mahalingam-Dhingra A, Weinstock MA, Sinclair C, Geller AC. Youth indoor tanning and skin cancer prevention: lessons from tobacco control. Am J Prev Med. 2015; 48(2): 188-194.
Sinclair C, Makin JK. Implications of lessons learned from tobacco control for tanning bed reform. Prev Chronic Dis. 2013; 10: 120-186.
Tuten TL. Advertising 2.0: Social media marketing in a Web 2.0 World. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers; 2008.
This research was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Prevention Research Center grant number U48DP001938-0451 to Lori A. Crane.
Conflict of interest
The authors have no competing or conflicting interests to disclose. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Adherence to ethical principles
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
Practice: Public health practitioners should explore the use of social media to reach and engage young audiences and promote norms that discourage indoor tanning and other forms of high-risk ultraviolet exposures among adolescents and young adults.
Policy: Policy makers at the local, state, and national level need to be informed about the advertising strategies used by the tanning industry in order to develop effective public policies to reduce skin cancer risk.
Research: Research is needed to determine how young adults are accepting tanning advertisements on Internet channels and how this affects their tanning behavior.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
(DOCX 17.5 kb)
About this article
Cite this article
Ricklefs, C.A., Asdigian, N.L., Kalra, H.L. et al. Indoor tanning promotions on social media in six US cities #UVTanning #tanning. Behav. Med. Pract. Policy Res. 6, 260–270 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13142-015-0378-0
- Indoor tanning
- Skin cancer
- Social media