Condoms, Clicks, and Sexual Health

Condom brands are filling critical gaps in access to sexual health education through engaging posts across their social media platforms.

graph depicting sexual health messaging shared by condom brands across social media platforms

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“Asking For and Giving Consent Is Sexy”

“Here’s What You Gotta Know Before You Say ‘Let’s Go’”

These are just two Instagram posts by Trojan, a prominent condom brand, that grab a viewer’s attention and offer sexual health guidance.

Condom brands have emerged as important voices in the promotion of sex-positive attitudes and sexual and reproductive health information. Brands are increasing their presence on social media to both promote their products and spread knowledge about sexual health. They are filling an important gap in the United States’ sexual health education for young adults. Less than half of American high schools meet the CDC’s guidelines for comprehensive sex education, leaving much of America’s youth in the dark.

Comprehensive sex education provides children with age-appropriate and scientifically accurate knowledge about the physical, biological, emotional, and social components of their sexuality. Without formal sex education, the 93% of young adults who use social media are turning to their favorite platforms for answers.

Mia Ann Xu and colleagues conducted a study to understand the influence marketing by condom brands has on sexual health behaviors and attitudes. They evaluated the messages being shared by the 10 top-selling condom brands’ Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter profiles. All posts from January 1, 2020 to June 1, 2021 were examined and placed in three categories: sexual health resource, sexual health education, and social issues.

The figure above details the frequency of sexual health messages shared across all brands and social media platforms organized by type of message. Most messages posted—including the two above—fall under the sexual health education category. These posts teach viewers not only about how to use a condom but also about topics such as safe sex practices and consent.

Viewers engaged more with posts containing sexual health education than they did with other categories of posts. In other words, consumers were most interested in brands posting informative materials.

The researchers suggest that the rise of TikTok—concurrent with the study timeline—also includes sexual health messaging and its influence needs to be quantified, as well. Meanwhile, condom brands are continuing to use their platforms to reach an audience looking for sex advice and instruction.

Databyte via Mia Ann Xu, Marybec Griffin, Jessica Jaiswal. An Examination of Condom Brand’s Social Media Influence on Sexual Health Messages. Health Communication, 2023.