Researchers at University of California, Irvine and Stanford University found that when exposed to social media messages subjects in smoking cessation programmes had much higher rate of success.
The study showed that 78% of members tweet their fellow study subjects at least once during the 100-day study and overall engagement in two consecutive Tweet2Quit groups was high.
Tweet2Quit's two closed 20-person groups communicated online via Twitter for 100 days. Participants each received a free supply of nicotine patches, along with daily-automated text messages. They were encouraged to use a web-based guide to develop a cessation plan and were asked to tweet their group at least once a day about their progress.
Cornelia Pechmann, professor of marketing at UCI's Paul Merage School of Business said, "Our results indicate that incorporating social media-delivered auto-messages from trained counsellors was effective in promoting smoking cessation. The twice-daily messages encouraged people to tweet their group members, which made them more accountable for quitting."
The daily auto-messages sent, at 9am and 5pm encouraged and directed peer-to-peer discussions, and distinct tweeting spikes.
"The Twitter environment created a sort of party dynamic. That's especially important for social smokers. In addition, group leaders naturally emerged, facilitating the online conversations. These leaders played a critical role in keeping people engaged," Pechmann said.
Most of the tweets were positively related to smoking abstinence like, setting a quit date, using nicotine patches, countering roadblocks, utilizing self-rewards, believing in themselves and feeling pride and they were more likely to remain smoke-free.
Support, accountability, advice and bragging rights are a few of the benefits that make social media a promising platform for self-help groups, Pechmann noted.