Utah social media campaigns attempt to change COVID-19 behavior


See also: BYU students start social media campaign to boost COVID-19 safety compliance

As coronavirus cases rise in Utah county, social media might hold a solution. The Utah Department of Health and students with the BYU School of Communications Y Digital lab introduced campaigns encouraging young adults to follow COVID-19 guidelines.


The Utah Department of Health is using the tagline “Ronalert!” in its social media campaign to push young adults to comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Jenny Johnson, the department’s public information officer, said the health department developed the campaign in response to the surge of coronavirus cases in 15- to 24-year-olds in Utah County and South Salt Lake.

It held informal focus groups with college-aged students to figure out what platforms they use — like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram. Since people refer to the virus as “the Rona,” the department incorporated that into the campaign.

The campaign website reads, “My friend told me about this guy who heard from a girl who said some other girl had to go into quarantine because she made out with a random guy who had the Rona. Don’t take any chances,” the campaign website reads.

“We hope that ‘Ronalert!’ helps cut through the weeds and makes it easy to understand what you need to do in a fun, light-hearted way,” Johnson said. 

‘Join the Maskerade’

BYU students at Y Digital are working with Provo and Orem to call on fellow students to “Join the Maskerade.”

This is the logo for the “Join the Maskerade” campaign. The campaign has students pledge to wear a mask and enters them to win prizes. (Suzy Bushman)

“It’s a campaign for students, by students,” said BYU senior and account assistant Darnel Apelu.

The campaign began with a press conference on Oct. 1 at the Provo City Library.

“Join the Maskerade” has students take a pledge to wear a mask. The campaign will then randomly select students to win prizes, including $50 gift cards to local Provo businesses, the campaign website reads. 

Apelu said the campaign is using paid social advertising to help their content reach its target audience — college students. 

Aubree Smith, a BYU senior and account executive from Connecticut, said the campaign will be putting out “really fun and energetic ads.” 

“It’s all about this idea of rewarding good behavior instead of having anyone feel shamed, pressured or forced,” she said. “It’s all about just the positivity.”

Madison Mingus, another account assistant and BYU senior from Austin, Texas, said the team is anticipating opposition to the message. “We’ve already come up with some witty and funny ways that we can respond to people,” she said, adding that the campaign is just being casual and sharing a message in a positive, fun and humorous way.

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