It’s no secret that the HIV.gov team is dedicated to discovering, testing, and sharing new ways to use digital tools to drive behavior change. We learned from the 2018 Agents of Change Summit earlier this year about the newest trends in digital tools, tactics, and trends.
Here are four key themes from the Summit that are relevant to the HIV/AIDS community, plus a few ways to apply these themes to your communications work:
Theme 1: Know thy audience (and understand their journey with your content). While the two-day Summit covered everything from successful Twitter campaigns to using humor appeals in health-related content, there was one common thread that ran through almost every session: the importance of collecting data to better understand your audience. Where it’s as simple as digging in to your Facebook Insights to understand the best day of the week/time to post your content or as complex as analyzing your video to understand where viewers dropped off, cultivating an understanding of who your audience is, what is important to them, and what type of information they need from you can transform your content and the way you use your digital tools.
Interested in digital tool metrics and analysis? Here are two recent blog posts:
- How to Uncover Audience Insights with Data and Analytics
- ICYMI: Using Social Media Analytics to Grow Your Audience
Theme 2: Chances are, your audience watches video. Speaking of engaging content, we previously covered why our team thinks video content is effective. Several keynote speakers and breakout session leaders also emphasized the use of video across social media platforms when communicating about health behaviors, including Instagram Live, video in Facebook Ads, and creating content for a YouTube channel. Using video can help you describe complex health behaviors, feature personal stories from your audience, and show another dimension of your organization.
When it comes to using video, it can be intimidating or seem expensive. However, there are several free and low cost tools for creating engaging video content:
- Smartphone movie magic: many smartphones shoot good quality video that can be uploaded to social media or your blog/website. You can also use your smartphone to film a Facebook or Instagram Live stream. Check out our tips for producing a Facebook Live on any budget.
- Get the most out of your Instagram story: content created for Instagram or Facebook Stories can be downloaded from the apps and re-uploaded to preserve the content and expand its reach.
Theme 3: Facebook’s newsfeed is (always) changing, but there are steps you can take to preserve your engagement rates. While the demographics of Facebook users are changing, it was still named the most popular platform with 68% of US adults reportedly using the site. In early 2018, Facebook announced changes to the way content would appear in the Newsfeed. At the Summit, they described how Facebook users can expect to see more content from users and pages they engage with regularly (think: posts they react to, comment on, or share) and less content from users and pages they don’t interact with often. News of the algorithm change made some social media manager nervous about how the change would affect engagement rates. During the Summit, a representative from Facebook presented on how to use Facebook ads strategically and offered some advice for social media managers worried about the change:
“Organizations who post engaging content, like videos and images, and participate in two-way conversation with their audience members shouldn’t experience a drop in engagement rates.”
Conference presenters noted the importance of spending time creating engaging content for Facebook (quality over quantity). To learn more about creating images for social media, check out our blog post: How to Create Engaging Images for Social Media. To read more about the algorithm change, our team recommends this article on the algorithm change.
Theme 4: You have the power to change your audience’s behavior. Digital tools have broken down the wall between HIV/AIDS communicators and our audiences. When used correctly, we can use them to aid in powerful behavior change. The first step to using the tools correctly? Knowing your audience. We need to understand the content that resonates with them and the channels they like to use for health information. If you’re just starting to create your social media strategy or you’ve already launched your platforms, everyone can benefit from taking a step back and taking time to deeply understand your audience. Once you’ve taken an audience inventory, and maybe even built out your audience persona, you can begin to reshape your digital tools strategy.
If you’d like support implementing some of the ideas above, need help getting started with digital tools, or have questions, sign up for Virtual Office Hours for one-on-one coaching with a member of the HIV.gov team.
We’d like to hear from you: what do you think of the four themes summarized above? Tweet us @HIVgov.