Speaking – And Listening – To Teens Through New Media Tools

Content From: Ruth S. Buzi, LCSW, Ph.D, Associate Professor and Director of Social Services, Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health ClinicPublished: March 04, 20143 min read


baylor logoEditor's Note: Today we share the sixth story from the new media planning projects supported by HIV.gov in summer 2013. To read earlier posts in this series, click here:

The goal of the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic’s website expansion project was to assist adolescents in their searches for reproductive, family planning and HIV information and services. To do so, we collaborated with our clients, the University of Houston’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, Google and several community organizations. We upgraded and expanded our websiteExit Disclaimer with new content and links to additional social network sites such as Instagram and Snapchat. We added the avatar Ty on each page in an effort to increase questions from males, as a partner to our existing avatar Tiff, who mainly receives questions from females. We analyzed the content of 484 questions we received via Tiff and found that young people find this venue very useful to quickly and anonymously obtain accurate information on sensitive issues.

We also initiated an AdWords (keyword advertising) campaign with Google to increase visibility of our website. We were assigned a mentor to help us create the campaign. We selected several key words used by clients to find HIV services in our community and purchased these words to drive traffic to our site. Preliminary results suggest that “HIV Testing” is the second key word driving traffic to our website following “Teen Pregnancy.”

Part of our strategy was to add short videos about HIV prevention and testing to our website. We held a contest, encouraging our clients and youth in the community to script short films to educate young people about HIV prevention and testing. The first prize winner, Voices for Victory Over HIVExit Disclaimer, was developed with input from clients who were asked to text a message they would like to share with their friends about HIV prevention and testing. All the content in this film is based on texts we have received from clients. Some of the actors are also our clients. We encourage you to watch and share all the videos as we introduce them on our websiteExit Disclaimer.

These efforts taught us that inviting the community and specifically our clients to provide input is essential to creating content and messages relevant for the audience targeted. The synergy from this process provided great ideas for future directions. We will continue to update our social network sites and search for opportunities to disseminate information about our services. We will find opportunities to promote the films and offer another contest to engage more young people in communicating messages about HIV prevention. More evaluation of the ad words campaign will help us in identifying ways to better brand our services.

We are excited about our enhanced content. More importantly, our patients are telling us they are impressed by the photos, links, Tiff and Ty, and easy-to-navigate pages.

We are working with organizations and theaters to promote the films. We are also conducting discussion groups with our clients to obtain additional input about reaching young people about HIV.

What tools are you considering to increase communication with youth? How are you involving youth in determining HIV related content? Please comment below.