Social Media and Awareness Days: See What the HIV Community Has Planned

Content From: HIV.govPublished: February 19, 20194 min read


People work on their computers.

The 2019 HIV observances season has begun, and many of us are in planning mode for all of the upcoming activities. In addition to sharing resources, we wanted to listen to our partners and hear ideas from you on how to use social media for Awareness Day communications. Here’s what we heard from several organizations about how they’re using social media around the observances.

To Increase Engagement through Stories

“It’s less about the day and more about highlighting the reason why major Awareness Days were created in the first place. We tend to use social media to highlight two things around public awareness days: first, major stats and facts to give audiences tangible understanding of the issue that day was created for, and second, to tell human interest stories so that audiences can connect on a personal level to that issue. The hope is that we can leverage these moments to broaden engagement and public perception and provide content that audiences feel connected to.” said Mandy Sugrue, Director of Communications for the International AIDS Society.

On Using Twitter Chats

“At the HHS Office of Minority Health, we partner with federal and non-federal organizations for Twitter chats regularly. It’s one way of using digital media to connect with our stakeholders while we create awareness or amplify a public health issue or initiative,” said Leslie Quiroz, a bilingual public affairs specialist who manages social media for the Office of Minority Health. “This allows our partners to engage with their own content and resources, and also helps our handles (@MinorityHealthExit Disclaimer and @OMH_EspanolExit Disclaimer) reach a wider audience.”

When Considering Twitter Relays

Twitter Relays are also known as coordinated message promotion on Twitter using a pre-determined hashtag and promotion schedule.

Anjana Padmanabhan, MPH, Senior Manager for Digital and Interactive Marketing at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, summed up her experience with Twitter relays: “I have used Twitter relays for Awareness Days, as they are effective in unifying and sharing our key messages with a larger audience by collaborating effectively with partners and others in our space.”

For Streaming Live on Facebook

The South Broward (FL) Alumnae Chapter (SBAC) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority hosted a Facebook Live broadcast to recognize World AIDS Day 2018. Delphine Gervais, LCSW-QS, SBAC Chapter Journalist, told us: “SBAC identifies social media as a viable conduit to providing relevant information for various Awareness Days. We recognize the bandwidth it lends to reaching a wide range of audience members in one fell swoop. The goals of the session were to engage as many participants as possible in a 30-minute session, expose viewers to the important information, and enlighten viewers about the work of SBAC and Delta in communities. We believe that quality and time were important, which led to the decision to present the information online. Adding subject-matter experts gave credibility to the project and accessibility to professionals as a follow-up to the event.”

When Deciding which Social Media Channels You Should Use

Luis A. Mares, LMSW, Director of Community Mobilization at the Latino Commission on AIDS, told us: “Social media outreach continues to be one of the main components of our work to support national Awareness Days, including: National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD—October 15) and National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (NHHAD—May 15). Both NLAAD and NHHAD have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, which are also the main channels we use for our Awareness Days work.

Each social media channel gives us different capabilities, so we choose particular channels to meet specific needs. For example, Facebook and Twitter give us the capacity to build networks and cultivate relationships with CBOs, government agencies, and individuals who help us by reposting and retweeting our messaging. These networks further disseminate our messages and information.

When it comes to video, we choose YouTube and Facebook to host things like our capacity-building webinars, because those are the only platforms where our audience can watch these longer videos in their entirety.”

For more ideas to help you plan for your Awareness Days activities, visit our event planning guide and the Digital Tools section.