Publication Date


Document Type



Public Health and Recreation


Public Health | Social Media

Publication Title

Journal of Medical Internet Research Formative Research


Adolescents and young adults demonstrate the highest rate of unrestrained motor vehicle fatalities, making the promotion of seat belt restraint a priority for public health practitioners. Because social media use among adolescents and young adults has proliferated in recent years, it is critical to explore how to use this tool to promote seat belt use among this population. Social media posts can contain various types of information within each post and this information can be communicated using different modalities.
In this study, based on the elaboration likelihood model, we aimed to examine how adolescents and young adults reacted to different appeals in various components of posts in the pilot of a promotion intervention on the Instagram BuckleUp4Life account.
Using thematic analysis, we examined different appeals in 3 components (photo, text, and caption) of 199 posts in BuckleUp4Life and compared the number of likes for different appeals.
We found that 6 appeals were used in the posts: rational, ego, social, fun, positive emotional, and fear appeals. The results of our study showed that in photos, fun appeals were the most popular. Rational and positive emotional appeals were the most appealing in text and captions. Regardless of the location of the components (photo, text, or captions), rational appeal was the most popular appeal.
Based on the findings of our study, we recommend that public health practitioners utilize fun photos with rational and positive emotional appeals in text and captions rather than fear or social appeals, when promoting seat belt use through social media, especially Instagram.


rational appeal, ego appeal, social appeal, fun appeal, positive emotional appeal, fear appeal, social media, youth, adolescents, health information, car safety


This is the Version of Record and can also be read online here.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.