What Do Social Media Influencers Say about Health? A Theory-Driven Content Analysis of Top Ten Health Influencers' Posts on Sina Weibo. Academic Article uri icon


  • Social media health influencers play an increasingly important role in disseminating health-related information to the public. To explore how health influencers in China communicate with their followers, we conducted a content analysis of the top ten health influencers' posts (n=1000) on Sina Weibo guided by the Extended Parallel Processing Model (EPPM) and the transportation theory. These posts were coded in terms of demographic information, topics, message properties (informative, persuasive, and interactive), EPPM variables, and types of evidence (statistical and narrative) used. Results showed that these influencers had a clear emphasis on women's health (OB/GYN diseases and risks related to pregnancy and childcare) and beauty and skincare (in terms of risks and benefits). Overall, they used low fear appeal and high efficacy messages. However, messages containing efficacy information were less likely to be liked. These influencers relied heavily on narrative evidence; however, there was no significant relationship between the use of either narrative or statistical evidence and the number of likes. Differences in the communication strategies in posts about different diseases did exist but were not prevalent.

published proceedings

  • J Health Commun

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Zou, W., Zhang, W. J., & Tang, L. u.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Zou, Wenxue||Zhang, Wanjiang Jacob||Tang, Lu

publication date

  • January 2021