Twitter isn’t just for sending out important messages. Many use it to listen and participate in online conversations. Krista Martel, Executive Director at The Well Project, prefers to think of their Twitter followers as a community that can lift up the excellent work of their partners. For our final post in our ongoing article series, we asked Krista to share her experience and suggestions for maximizing Twitter for HIV communication (Part one and Part two).
What recommendations would you give other HIV community organizations that are thinking about revising their Twitter strategy?
Krista Martel (KM): First, in addition to posting your own content, it’s really important to think of Twitter as a community, as well as an opportunity to help boost partners’ and followers’ posts. When you’re just getting started, you can build an audience more quickly by retweeting more established organizations’ posts. You are much more likely to get a “like” or retweet from others if you are doing the same!
Use things like “Follow Fridays” (#FF) to highlight organizations and individuals you support, and search out hashtags (e.g., #UequalsU) for content on subjects you want to promote. You should also visit others’ pages from time to time to see if there is content to retweet that you may have missed.
Finally, remember that HIV content doesn’t have to exist in a silo. Use trending hashtags such as #MondayMotivation, #ThursdayThoughts, and #FollowFridays to amplify your work. Also, don’t be afraid to use health awareness days such as #WorldSuicidePreventionDay and #BreastfeedingAwarenessWeek to highlight the intersections of HIV and other health issues. It’s always important to insert ourselves in these conversations to convey the complexity of our work and our community.
Why is Twitter a valuable tool for reaching individuals in the community?
KM: Twitter has enabled us to expand the reach of our work to an additional half-a-million or more individuals annually! It provides easy (and free) access to a large, global audience from a laptop or mobile phone around the clock. Most important, it allows us to reach people, especially women, who may be or feel isolated in their daily lives because of their HIV status. With Twitter, there is a huge supportive community out there reminding people living with HIV that they are never really alone.
What Twitter content have you found works best?
KM: Hands down, we believe links that include images are the best way to engage users and help Twitter posts stand out. If a link doesn’t import an image automatically, you can upload one, which enables you to tag up to 10 individuals or organizations and helps increase engagement and retweets. We also believe that including powerful quotes from the posted content or from a conference we’re attending makes for successful posts.
How do you use Twitter and how does it fit into the larger communication strategy for your organization?
KM: The Well Project uses Twitter in four major ways. First, we primarily use it as a communication tool to share our constantly updating and new content (fact sheets, blogs, events, etc.) with our ever-growing audience. Second, we provide updates from relevant scientific and advocacy conferences so that people who couldn’t attend can benefit from breaking news and other conference insights.
Third, we use this influential social media tool to promote our organizational partners’ content and events, lifting up the excellent work of others in our community and amplifying their important voices. Finally, Twitter is an important tool to disseminate important news, and it provides a platform for The Well Project to lend our voice to the ongoing dialogue about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. and beyond.
How do you track your social media activities and what does success look like?
KM: We maintain a Google document to track our social media posts, which helps us stay organized with the updated content on our website that is ready to share. We also use the Twitter Analytics tool to review our engagement and overall reach (impressions), track our progress, and measure success. We define success as incremental increases in our followers and impressions.
This article is the final post in a three-part interview series. Read Part One and Part Two for more tips and lessons learned from the community. 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.