Last month’s observance of National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (#NYHAAD) served as a great reminder for our public health partners about how important it is to reach young people about HIV prevention, care and treatment. In 2014, youth aged 13 to 24 accounted for more than one in five new HIV diagnoses in the US.
Members of that same age group are heavy users of digital technologies. The Pew Research Center reports that a typical teen, for example, sends and receives 30 texts a day , and many teens check social media more than 100 times a day .
We know that digital media is extremely popular among youth, but choosing an effective platform can be challenging for public health organizations. Here are some suggestions on finding the right channel that helps you reach your organization’s goals.
In 2015, Facebook was the most popular platform among teens, according to a Pew research study . By early 2017, however, Snapchat was more popular among teens than both Facebook and Instagram, although the introduction of the Stories feature on Instagram has recently impacted Snap’s engagement of older youth.
With over 320 million monthly active users , Twitter is another platform that is still growing in popularity. But only about 30% of American teens use Twitter. So if your goal is to reach as many young people as possible, it’s important to consider using a social media platform that has the best engagement opportunities for your target age group. Twitter, for example, has a large
If you intend to share images and/or video on social media, consider using a platform like Instagram , which is geared specifically toward visual content.
“Pinboards” which allow you to “pin” online content to create visual displays, like Pinterest, are also popular among young people; Pew reports that one in five teens (22%) use online pinboards to share photos for inspiration or entertainment, or even to sell their own creative work.
Video production apps also offer new ways for youth to share their own creative content. Musical.ly, for example, enables users to create 15-second videos and to edit them with soundtracks, filters, and other features. In July of 2015, this app became the most downloaded free app in over 30 countries, including the US, according to Forbes.com. And a 2016 Business Insider survey revealed that ten out of the 60 teenage respondents “listed Musical.ly as the app they were most excited about.”
Video chat platforms like Skype and FaceTime, as well as messaging apps like WhatsApp, are increasingly popular ways for today’s youth to connect with friends, in part because of their visual appeal and privacy provisions.
Digital media is reshaping the way young people communicate, express themselves, and the way they absorb new information. It also affects how they develop and maintain relationships in positive and potentially less affirming ways. When communicating with youth, it is important to be conscious of cyberbullying (please visit stopbullying.gov for more information).
Youth are using apps and social media for a wide range of functions from games to meeting friends. To reach your audience you need to be familiar with what apps or platforms your audience is using. Our collective, continued awareness of these usage patterns among youth will provide opportunities for new and creative digital communication to reach them.