Engaging with Communities of Color Using New Media
Challenges with Using New Media to Engage AudiencesDespite the proliferation of mobile technologies and new media platforms, the roundtable observed that some challenges in reaching communities of color online remain. For example, digital divides in terms of connectivity and quality of access persist despite the changing mobile landscape. Social Media Strategist Shireen Mitchell noted that to effectively reach Latin American and African American communities, “If you’re not doing some form of , you won’t be able to reach of them” because not everyone has a smart phone with Internet access or applications (or “apps”). Similarly, other participants pointed out the limitations of reaching users of mobile devices in low income communities, which tend to be heavy users of “pay-as-you-go” plans that limit Internet usage. Phone sharing among family and friends also poses a challenge for targeting mobile users. Tony Aaron Fuller of the National Native American AIDS Prevention CenterExit Disclaimer also noted that members of some communities, especially some Native American communities, are so far behind the technology curve that they need help developing basic digital literacy skills such as typing, logging into a computer, and navigating the Internet.
Other panelists highlighted the difficulty in reaching non-English speakers, especially members of the Latino and Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Participants also noted that it’s extremely important to create culturally appropriate content in English and the native language of the audience you intend to reach. Another major challenge mentioned by the group was effectively targeting compelling messages to communities that are already bombarded with vast amounts of information, in part as a result of increased Internet connectivity.
Opportunities and RecommendationsDespite the challenges, the group also outlined a number of opportunities for successfully leveraging new media to engage communities of color:
- Remember your audience – While it’s easy to get excited by the newest technology, it’s important to take a step back and think about who your audience is. This is the foundation of the POST strategy (people – objectives – strategy – technology), which we’ve talked about before on this blog. You can use this as a framework for your planning efforts.
- Create once, repurpose often – Given the increase in the number of tools and platforms, it’s easy to get carried away creating a strategy for each communication channel you use. But it’s more important to develop compelling content tailored to the needs of your audience and then repurpose that content over various new media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or other channels.
- Keep it simple – Although mobile devices and new media platforms continue to increase in number, bear in mind that many people still rely on “old school” technologies like email and text messaging. So don’t forget them when planning your strategy.
- Build relationships – As one participant noted, “People trust people and need to trust people they know. They don’t trust entities and they don’t trust buildings." Build a relationship with your audience by consistently sharing relevant content and engaging in a two-way conversation.
- Bridge online and offline interactions – Bring together community leaders and online influencers in the communities you want to reach and find out how you can work together. Tweetups are one way to achieve this goal.
HIV.gov will continue this conversation at “The State of New Media and HIV," a satellite session at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday, July 23, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. If you are attending the conference, we hope you can join us! You can also follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #newmediaHIV.We also want to know what are some challenges you’ve faced when using new media to engage with communities of color? Do you have any successes or best practices you would like to share? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know more about your work in the comments section below.