Understanding the appropriate medium to communicate health promotion messages is vital for improving personal and societal health. As increasingly more people utilize social media for health information, public health practitioners use these platforms to engage an existing audience in health promotion messages. In this study, the relational framing theory was used as a lens for studying how message framing may influence social media audience engagement. Specifically, we assessed how posts from Tobacco Free Florida’s Facebook page were framed as either dominant-submissive or affiliate-disaffiliate to an implied audience of either smokers, nonsmokers, active quitters, or a mixed audience, and the extent to which a direct call for engagement, in terms of a request to comment, like, or share the post, was used for audience engagement. A three-way interaction for the level of engagement through comments was significant, F(3217) = 7.11, p < .001, ηp2 = .09, and showed that framing, a call for engagement, and varying implied audience choice played a role in audience engagement with smoking cessation posts on social media. Implied audiences of Tobacco Free Florida’s posts included smokers, those who are trying to quit, and nonsmokers as health promotion can be targeted at the individual’s health, social support infrastructure, or the well-being of the society, and implications for strategic message design and audience targeting are discussed.
Social media engagement Message design Message framing Smoking cessation