Virtual Office Hours: Social Media Conversations with the HIV Community

Content From: Pavni Guharoy, Communications Director,, and Jodi SperberPublished: March 24, 20154 min read
Office Hours

Through Virtual Office Hours, offers free, personalized technical assistance to help federal and non-federal HIV program staff on how to access, talk about or improve their use of digital tools and social media channels to improve their outreach. We hold these 45-minute sessions every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00-4:00 p.m. (Eastern). You can register hereExit DisclaimerFAQs from Virtual Office HoursVirtual Office Hours provide opportunities to ask ANY question about digital tools and social media channels that may advance your outreach efforts. Whether you are looking to define your audience and need help targeting that population, or you want assistance signing up for a particular social media platform and need a basics tutorial on how it works, we’re here to help!

Here are some questions we’ve received during recent training sessions and the resources we’ve shared:Question: How do I increase the number of followers on my organization’s social media platforms?Response: We get asked this question a lot. But social media is about more than getting a big number of followers; it’s about engaging with your target audience, and setting goals for what you want to achieve. That could mean reaching 1,000 followers or less, or it could mean finding 30 gay men under 30 who haven’t been tested for HIV in the past two years. We can help you create a strategy to define and measure your goals, which, in turn, will help you focus and streamline your activities.

Resources: We often recommend the POSTExit Disclaimer approach, which puts “People” front and center in your strategy. Another great resource is HIV Prevention Goes Social, which includes a POST worksheet, along with other tools you can use as you plan your own strategy. And here’s how you can monitor your “unfollowers.”

Question: How does Twitter work?Response: There’s a reason so many people use TwitterExit Disclaimer it provides real-time information and allows you to be a part of interesting conversations that you might otherwise miss. But there are over 500 million tweets every day (that’s 350,000 per minute!)—so it’s helpful to learn ways to hone in on the things that relate to your program goals. There are lots of resources to help with this.

Resources: We love to give personal tours of Twitter to show them what it looks like and how it works. You can also find lotsExit Disclaimer of online tutorialsExit Disclaimer to help explain Twitter. Then you might consider using a social media management tool (e.g., HootsuiteExit Disclaimer to help you organize the topics and people you follow more effectively.

Question: Can you help me create more engaging social media content?Response: There are many tips for creating engaging content. Posting compelling visuals is one way to grab attention and convey a message faster than you can with just text. You can also increase engagement (i.e., likes, comments, shares) by using images on platforms like Facebook. If you aren’t a graphic designer, or don’t have access to one, you can still make high-quality images by searching for those that have a Creative CommonsExit Disclaimer license; all you have to do is give proper credit when you use them.

Resources: CanvaExit Disclaimer provides templates for various social channels and offers a simple tool to help you design custom images. UnsplashExit Disclaimer gives away free, high-resolution photos that you can use in your own messaging. And Creative Commons has created a search engineExit Disclaimer that allows you to use keywords to look for free images across a number of sites, including Google and Flickr. So go ahead, get creative!

Feedback for Virtual Office Hours: Calvin Fleming from GoodPR who recently joined Virtual Office Hours, "I have extensive experience using social media, but it's always great to hear how others are using it to better my own practices. And it was especially helpful that it was one-on-one and an informal conversation, so it could be specific to my needs.”Would you like to learn to use social media for HIV outreach in your community? Or to improve your current social media skills? Register hereExit Disclaimer to join Virtual Office Hours and speak with an social media expert.