Purpose: For the same reasons that rural telehealth has shown promise for enhancing the provision of care in underserved environments, social media recruitment may facilitate more inclusive research engagement in rural areas. However, little research has examined social media recruitment in the rural context, and few studies have evaluated the feasibility of using a free social media page to build a network of rural community members who may be interested in a research study. Here, we describe the rationale, process, and protocols of developing and implementing a social media approach to recruit rural residents to participate in an mHealth intervention. Methods: Informed by extensive formative research, we created a study Facebook page emphasizing community engagement in an mHealth behavioral intervention. We distributed the page to local networks and regularly posted recruitment and community messages. We collected data on the reach of the Facebook page, interaction with our messages, and initiations of our study intake survey. Findings: Over 21 weeks, our Facebook page gained 429 followers, and Facebook users interacted with our social media messages 3,080 times. Compared to messages that described desirable study features, messages that described community involvement resulted in higher levels of online interaction. Social media and other recruitment approaches resulted in 225 people initiating our in-take survey, 9 enrolling in our pilot study, and 26 placing their names on a waiting list. Conclusions: A standalone social media page highlighting community involvement shows promise for recruiting in rural areas.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Rural Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 National Rural Health Association.


  • Appalachian region
  • research subjects
  • rural populations
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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