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UNICEF uses a Facebook Ad campaign to help improve childhood vaccine safety perceptions in Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic

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UNICEF Indonesia and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance partnered to increase confidence in routine childhood vaccination services and encourage parents to vaccinate their children during COVID-19. Active Facebook users aged 18-50, or about 50% of the population, in three Indonesian provinces were reached with ads from UNICEF over five weeks.

The campaign improved motivation to seek childhood vaccination services among women of parenting age and enabled UNICEF to better understand what type of social media content is most likely to motivate parents to vaccinate their children in future campaigns. The campaign reached over 6 million people at a lower cost than conventional campaigns and led to 4.3 percentage point improvement in people’s perception of the safety of vaccination during the global pandemic. These results demonstrate that Facebook can be a valuable complement to on-the-ground communication strategies aimed at changing knowledge, attitude, and ultimately behaviors around vaccines.

“Our campaign on Facebook has shown that we can increase trust in immunization services among parents and caregivers through social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope this collaboration between Indonesia’s Ministry of Health, Facebook, Gavi and UNICEF will be scaled up nationwide to increase demand for vaccines, not only during COVID-19, but also in the post-pandemic era, especially if it is closely aligned with the national communication strategy for immunization.”

–Robert Gass, UNICEF Indonesia Deputy Representative


Prior to COVID-19, routine childhood vaccination coverage had stagnated at around 80% in Indonesia over the past few years. The pandemic compounded this problem as routine health services were disrupted, and people feared being infected while visiting clinics and hospitals. In response, UNICEF Indonesia used Facebook ads to run a 45-day health campaign about the safety of routine vaccination during COVID-19 and how to reduce infection risk while vaccinating children.

UNICEF used Audience Insights, a Facebook tool that helps build an audience for ads based on user demographics, to know more about the target population for their campaign better. The ads were co-created by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health with messages informed by baseline studies and assessments previously conducted by the Ministry of Health. The campaign was directed to users who were of parenting age in three Indonesian provinces with low childhood vaccination rates -- Aceh, South Sulawesi, and East Nusa Tenggara.

Ads featured two types of content; the first was designed to provoke an emotional response with photographs of children and their caregivers and parent testimonials and the second type of content educated users about vaccine guidance using illustrations and statistics. Some ads directed viewers to three articles on UNICEF’s website. These articles described the safety and process of receiving a vaccine during the pandemic, as well as helped dispel myths associated with immunization.

To assess the effectiveness of their content, UNICEF conducted a Brand Lift Study -- a tool commonly used in marketing to measure the success of an ad campaign. UNICEF applied this method to their health campaign to measure whether seeing their ads improved confidence in vaccines and if people of parenting age were more motivated to vaccinate their children. Overall, more than 5,000 people were surveyed in the Brand Lift Study and each respondent was asked to answer one out of five survey questions about knowledge and safety perceptions of childhood vaccines, motivation to vaccinate their own child and recommending others do the same.

Campaign Creative
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UNICEF Indonesia reached over 6 million people in the three provinces, including more than 50% of the target population of Facebook users of parenting age. The ads achieved substantial reach, even in rural areas, and an average cost of USD 0.01 per engagement (defined as actions taken in response to ads including likes, comments and shares).

"Using Facebook is one of the easiest and fastest ways to reach people all across Indonesia in a short amount of time. This campaign would take so much more time if you were doing it on the ground. Facebook is also one of the most used social media platforms in the country, which means we can reach many people when we post.”

- Amanda Dwiarsianti, Communications Officer, UNICEF Indonesia

Survey results showed a 4.3 percentage point improvement in people’s perception of the safety of vaccination during the global pandemic, and notably, a 9.4 percentage point improvement among women 18-24 who are most likely to be the primary caregivers of infants. Among women 25-34, there was a 6.9 percentage point improvement in likelihood to recommend that family and friends vaccinate their children. Results also indicated that the emotional ads received higher engagement than the educational ads, though more research is needed to understand how this impacts user knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.

The campaign saw only a small lift, 1.0 percentage point, in the motivation of parents to take their children for their next routine immunization service at a local health clinic. For the next iteration of this project, the team is looking for new ways to both measure Facebook's impact on the motivation of parents, including on the ground surveys in clinics, and to discover ways to increase the motivation of parents through longer campaigns and responsive content.

In future campaigns, UNICEF will use these insights to inform their content, such as creating aspirational parenting content featuring fathers to engage more male users. Analysis of user comments about commonly asked questions and misconceptions about vaccines on the campaign posts will be used by the Ministry of Health to update the national communication strategies for immunization in early 2021.

"Social media will continue to play an important role in educating the public, given the high number of active Facebook users in Indonesia that continues to grow during a pandemic. Immunization messages should be designed in an attractive and targeted manner, so that it improves immunization by increasing coverage with high quality and ensuring equal distribution.”

- Dr Asik Surya, Expanded Program on Immunization Manager, Ministry of Health of Indonesia


Moving a health communication campaign from concept to execution in such a short time frame to reach millions of people required high levels of coordination and collaboration among UNICEF teams and their stakeholders. The Brand Lift Study demonstrated that Facebook ad campaigns can complement conventional health education strategies to quickly reach millions of people at relatively low cost. As UNICEF Indonesia plans to scale Facebook-driven health communication campaigns nationwide, they’re creating a blueprint that can be applied to other health priorities, including COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

*Case study results will vary, as they depend on a variety of factors. These results may not be achieved by all.