National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is on April 10, and Advocates for Youth plans and leads this observance. Rachel Cooke, Associate Director for Communications at Advocates for Youth, recently shared the following takeaways about how digital tools fit into their NYHAAD planning and dissemination.
How has your integration of digital communication tools changed since the first observance of NYHAAD?Rachel: It’s been four years since the first NYHAAD, and, in that time, many social media channels have come and gone. What has remained constant is how young people expertly use social media to share their stories and fight the epidemic. Because of their use of social media, a digital strategy is now woven into our NYHAAD yearly strategy to make sure it’s prominent in every action. We think through how our work on the ground can translate to digital content (e.g., photos, videos, hashtags) and how digital actions can amplify the work happening on the ground to create synergy between the two.
What lessons can you share from your experience in using digital communication tools to extend the messages of NYHAAD?Rachel: Young people are heavy users of mobile technology (smart phones, tablets, wearables, etc.) so it’s important to think about how they will engage with your content beyond a computer screen. Making sure that content is accessible on mobile devices is key to reaching young people. Also, we have started to implement a text messaging (or SMS) strategy for NYHAAD. Text messages have a higher click and read rate than emails, making them a quicker and more efficient way to connect with young people on this issue and many others.
How do you see youth using digital media to amplify their voices?Rachel: The truly great part about social media is that not only can young people amplify their own voices, but they can also amplify the voices and work of young people all over the country and across the world. We find that many young people see commonalities, intersections, and paths for collaboration very readily. Social media has been a great tool in forging relationships and movements across distances, and that trend can only continue.
Digital Resources for NYHAAD 2016:Check out HIV.gov’s NYHAAD page for resources and ways to get involved.
- Hashtag: #NYHAAD
- Video: Positive Spin (real stories from real people about their experiences along the HIV Care Continuum)
- HIV.gov NYHAAD board on Pinterest
- NYHAAD resources from Advocates for Youth
- Thunderclap offered by CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health