Twitter continues to be an important tool for the HIV community's communication and outreach activities. In our recent post on how to use Twitter to reach your community, Mpowerment Project Coordinator John Hamiga said, "Twitter is the BEST way to stay informed on HIV news. Because I use it so much, I'm always the first on the team to relay important new information on HIV prevention."
To hear more about how our colleagues are using Twitter effectively, we asked Anjana Padmanabhan, Senior Manager for Digital and Interactive Marketing at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), to share her expertise and recommendations.
- What Twitter content have you found works best?
Anjana Padmanabhan: We find that the types of content that do the best for us are:
- Content with a compelling statistic or fact about HIV/AIDS or about our work
- Posts with compelling images (usually of families, babies, and young women)
- Posts with infographics/gifs
- Videos and other short clips
When we post something more visual and interactive, we usually see an uptick in engagement (shares, clicks, comments). Typically the posts that perform the worst are posts that use a lot of acronyms or industry jargon, don't have an image, or have an image of a PowerPoint presentation taken at a conference. When posts are too technical/scientific in nature, we typically don't get as much engagement overall. However, we try to strike a balance—sometimes it's important to get information out there, even if it's only relevant to our partners/donors or others within the scientific community.
How do you track your social media activities and what does success look like?
AP: We track social media activities using Sprout Social and other benchmarking reports such as the annual M+R Report. Each month, we develop a digital report tracking all of our metrics from the previous month. We look at the full spectrum of our digital communications, including the number of website visits, open rates from our marketing emails, number of new followers, and – most importantly engagement on social media.
In the past, the number of new followers was an important measurement to evaluate success. These days, I think engagement with our content is far more important. We examine the kinds of content that people are liking, sharing, and commenting on. We also examine how long people are watching our videos and how many people unfollow us during a given period of time. Success is fluid and ever-changing, but we look at the industry standards from benchmark reports to align ourselves with where we are and we think we should be. Sprout Social also includes "comparison" analytics so that we can see how we measure up to others in our space. While these are not perfect metrics, they give us a sense of how we rank among others in our space, and help us refine our strategy further. We try not to get too caught up in competition – though some is healthy!
- What recommendations would you give other HIV community organizations that are thinking about revising their Twitter strategy?
AP: My recommendations are:
- Sound human. Make sure your content is friendly and approachable and looks like there is an actual person (not a robot) sending out content.
- Give kudos to your audiences and partners regularly. Gratitude is an important part of a healthy social media strategy! Highlight and give credit where credit is due!
- Make sure your content is clear and concise.
- Join Twitter events that others in your space are hosting! And host your own Twitter chats and other engagement activities.
- Add visuals to as many posts as possible.
- Invest in a scheduling and analytics tool (such as Sprout Social or Buffer) to help time content, monitor engagement, and set benchmarks. These tools are particularly helpful if you have limited capacity for managing social media.
- Twitter is just one piece of the puzzle. Make sure you supplement your Twitter strategy with a robust and informative website that clearly links back to your social media channels, and a presence on other social media platforms (e.g., Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn). However, if you know that you have limited capacity to manage multiple platforms, make sure that you prioritize quality over quantity. You can also consider testing to see where your audiences are most likely to engage with you.
- Consider paid advertising on the social media channels your target audience uses most.
- How do you use Twitter and how does it fit into the larger communication strategy for your organization?
AP: Twitter is a very valuable tool for disseminating information in real-time about EGPAF's global work to end AIDS in children. We use Twitter in a variety of ways, including:
- Highlighting our progress and sharing our latest statistics, milestones, and announcements
- Telling the incredible stories of our beneficiaries and staff in the 14 countries in which we work
- Highlighting the incredible progress and actions of our partners, donors, policymakers, and other key stakeholders
- Using it as a collaboration tool with partners through Twitter chats, Twitter Relays, Thunderclaps, and other Twitter "events"
- Building relationships with the media and monitoring the latest news on HIV, AIDS, and global health/development in general
- Providing real-time updates from events and conferences
Our goal is to position ourselves as a leader in the fight to end AIDS in children. EGPAF has an incredible legacy and evolving body of work, and we use Twitter to educate and inform our audiences of the incredible progress we've made for over 30 years – but also that our work in not done yet.
- Why is Twitter a valuable tool for reaching individuals in the community?
AP: Twitter is a useful tool for EGPAF to educate audiences, spur conversations, mobilize supporters, build community, and promote campaigns/initiatives. It helps us create authentic and honest dialogue with our supporters, as well as build trust and form genuine connections with our audiences. It also helps us understand how to best communicate with our audiences by getting to see how they interact with our content. Through that understanding we are able to tweak and refine our communications strategy.
To learn how you can launch, optimize, or evaluate your organization's Twitter profile, talk to an HIV.gov digital media specialist during a Virtual Office Hours appointment.