A new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found automated phone calls were far more effective than Facebook ads in getting Baltimore City residents to request a smoke alarm through the city’s free installation program.
By the end of a campaign that ran in 2014, 458 participants who received an automated phone call offering free smoke alarm installation requested one versus 25 participants who saw a Facebook ad about the same smoke alarm campaign.
The findings, published May 17 in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, highlight the challenges of using social media to promote safety initiatives at a time when land line use is dramatically declining. In the past 15 years, the number of households with land lines has dropped from 90 to 40 percent. In contrast, nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults use social media.
Smoke alarms are known to reduce the risk of death by at least half and, like several other U.S. cities, Baltimore offers free smoke alarms to residents in an effort to prevent residential fire injuries and deaths. In Maryland, Baltimore City consistently has the highest fire death, more than double the national rate in 2015.