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Health Communication via Social Media: How Pharmaceutical Companies Are Using Instagram for Corporate Social Responsibility

DOI: 10.15340/978-625-00-9894-3_15

Published: 2021 | Pages: 297 - 326

Abisoluwa Akinboboye
Department of Media and Communication, East Tennessee State University, Warf-Pickel 526, Johnson City, TN 37614, United States

Susan E. Waters
Department of Media and Communication, East Tennessee State University, Warf-Pickel 526, Johnson City, TN 37614, United States

This study examines the depth of audience engagement utilizing six dimensions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) via the Instagram platforms of pharmaceutical companies. Recent research on the relationship between CSR and health communication on Instagram has established a robust link between both variables but created a gap in the level of audience engagement. Drawing on Voluntary Disclosure, Agenda Setting, and Media System Dependency theories, this study finds that voluntary communication of CSR strategies has the maximum potential to set the agenda for audience engagement on social media. The remodeled digitalization of the media has increased the level of media dependency making social media a tool to be leveraged for effective health communication. Results revealed that Community Volunteering had the strongest impact on total audience engagement and revealed that engagement is higher with image posts than video posts. This study is important for the bourgeoning field of CSR in the healthcare industry.

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Abisoluwa Akinboboye earned her undergraduate degree Mass Communication at Babcock University, in lishan-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria. To expand her knowledge of this field and professional specialization, she earned a Master of Arts in Brand and Media Strategy in the Department of Media and Communication at East Tennessee State University. Her academic interests are anchored in health communication in the online and digital media landscape, especially how media technologies are being integrated into health marketing campaigns and health policies. She researches effects of online and digital media interventions on health policy-making processes to assess if these media promote sustainable change or merely elicit discourse by invoking fear, especially in a pandemic era. By exploring models and theories supporting health behavior interventions, her goal is to determine the effect of constant exposure to health messages during the current “infodemic,” particularly the overabundance of mis- and dis-information.


Susan Waters is Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communication at East Tennessee State University, she is the Coordinator for the Brand and Media Strategy Graduate Program. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Communication and Media Studies at the University of Kansas, her Master of Arts in Mass Communication at Pittsburg State University, and her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication at Missouri Southern State University. Previously, Susan taught at Auburn University and Missouri State University. Her awards, include the Auburn University College of Liberal Arts Teaching Excellence Award and several top paper awards from the National Communication Association and the Central States Communication Association. She has published in the areas of social media, politics, and public relations in the Journal of Communication and Media Research, Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education, Case Studies in Strategic Communication, and  Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.


Cite this chapter as:

Akinboboye, A., Waters, S. (2021). Health Communication via Social Media: How Pharmaceutical Companies Are Using Instagram for Corporate Social Responsibility In: Bakan U. & Lengel M. L. (eds) Social Media Archaeology from Theory to Practice (pp. 297-326). MacroWorld Pub.

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