Harnessing the power of social media to improve girls’ nutrition knowledge

Ina, an adolescent girl in Indonesia

Ina is a 19-year old girl from Indonesia. Like many young women and girls in the country, Ina had limited access to information about nutrition or dietary practices while she was growing up. In Indonesia, the prevalence of anaemia among young women and girls is a significant public health challenge, compounded by inadequate nutrition. At least one-third of adolescent girls in the country suffer from iron-deficiency anaemia.

Anaemia can make it harder for girls to concentrate in school and take part in physical activities. Undernourished girls may face a high risk of dropping out, impacting their future productivity and potential. More and more, adolescent girls are turning to social media for information about their health and wellbeing. However, so much of what is available online is either inaccurate or misleading.

Springster, a social media platform developed by Girl Effect, is trying to change this by getting accurate and relevant information directly to adolescent girls. Springster digitally connects girls to curated online content designed to entertain, inspire, and equip them with the knowledge they need to create positive change in their own lives. It is among the top five most visited sites on Facebook Free Basics in Indonesia and has been used by almost two million adolescent girls across the country.

“I was browsing through Facebook Free Basics and stumbled upon Springster,” said Ina. “I read the first story about building confidence and got totally hooked. I read Springster every night until I’ve explored all available content.”

Seeing an opportunity to build girls’ knowledge and strengthen their practices and decision-making around their own health and nutrition, Nutrition International, through Nutrition Leverage and Influence for Transformation (NLIFT), partnered with Girl Effect to develop dedicated gender-sensitive nutrition content targeting a new generation of adolescent girls with access to social media. With the support of Nutrition International’s experts, Springster runs dedicated campaigns and articles that engage millions of girls in a fun way while providing useful information about diet and nutrition.

Through Springster, Ina found a community of like-minded girls that she felt comfortable with.

“I wish we had a local community for sharing in my neighbourhood,” she said. “Unfortunately, there is only one girl my age. All the other girls are already married and becoming adults. The thought of getting married is scary to me right now. I regularly chat with many girls I met through Springster. We started off by commenting on each other’s posts until we made friends.”

Girls can connect to the platform and with each other using features such as commenting threads, polls and reactions. Springster’s trained team of moderators respond to thousands of questions and comments from girls every day. It creates an important support network for girls, can help to build their confidence and creates safer spaces, where they can exchange knowledge.

After reading the content on Springster, Ina was motivated to change her own dietary habits.

“I started drinking more water throughout the day,” she said. “I also stopped eating fatty junk food. Now I make sure to consume more vegetables and fruits.”

Through Springster, Nutrition International and Girl Effect are harnessing the power of social media to reach adolescent girls directly and provide accessible nutrition and dietary information to support their health.