We’re five days into 2016, and, like many of you, we are reflecting on the the past year while planning for the year to come. It’s been nearly 10 years since we first launched HIV.gov. Eight years have passed since we started this blog and sent our first tweet. In social media years, that makes us almost prehistoric!
Since we started, we’ve seen some social networks (e.g., MySpace) fade, and we’ve welcomed new ones, like Instagram and Pinterest. Through it all, we’ve worked to stay on top of digital trends, so we can continue to improve our services. We’ve also paid attention to where our target audiences are engaging, as this helps us understand where we need to be present as well.
With that in mind, we wanted to share some highlights/insights of our work in 2015:
We launched our first digital storytelling project in March 2015. Guy, Patrick, Uriah, Ken, and Paul shared their stories of successfully navigating the HIV continuum of care. Behind each video, tweet, and post were the stories of real men. It reminded us of the power of individual stories to connect people through video, pictures, and text.
National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020
In July, the White House released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020, and we worked together with other government and non-government entities to share a wealth of information, including our blog posts and videos, on the updated Strategy’s goals and objectives. We also covered the release of the Federal Action Plan and the Community Action Plan Framework, and we developed infographics and the Our Strategy video to help the HIV community support the Strategy. In the coming year, we are ready to work together to identify more ways to use digital tools to bring the Strategy to life!
Virtual Office Hours
We launched Virtual Office Hours to provide the HIV community with free, one-on-one technical assistance and support on how to use digital tools, as well as to learn what they are doing. Participants came to us with questions ranging from “How do I use Facebook?” to “How do I create a social media strategy?”--reminding us of the importance of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to learn and take advantage of the connectivity that these tools offer.
We were reminded of the need to be prepared for rapid responses after actor Charlie Sheen’s announcement that he’s HIV-positive led to a record number of visits to the HIV.gov website. To meet the increased demand for information on HIV testing and care services, we immediately placed our Services Locator front and center to help visitors find convenient testing and care sites quickly and easily.
We were also reminded that continuous monitoring and evaluation is critical. When our weekly assessments showed a sharp decrease in the number of new followers we were attracting on Twitter, we were able to create a plan to respond to the change. If you don’t continuously monitor how individuals are using your social media channels, you miss opportunities to improve!
IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU
We couldn’t do any of this work without YOU--our friends, followers, and subscribers. We are consistently inspired and humbled by the efforts of the HIV community. So as we reflect on 2015, please know that YOU were the most important part of the conversation.