Social media offers innovative ways to engage youth in thinking about their HIV risk and expanding the reach of your program. This section features five free social media tools - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope - with information about their core elements, tips for use, and available training.

Social Media Tools Menu

  • Facebook
    Connect and share with others online using the most popular social networking site in the U.S.
  • Instagram
    A fun and quirky way to share a series of pictures or educational graphics with youth.
  • Twitter Logo
    Stay connected with youth using short messages and pictures sent frequently.
  • Snapchat Logo
    Share photo and video stories with this most youth-friendly medium.
  • Periscope Logo
    Uses live video and allows you to interact with your followers in real time.

Advantages of Using Social Media

Social media tools are online communities that give you opportunities to connect with clients, colleagues, family, and friends around the world. Using social media for your adolescent HIV program allows you to reach those you want to engage in a conversation. This innovative program strategy facilitates a two-way conversation between you and your target audience, whereas traditional media is a one-way conversation.

Social media is one of the best ways to reach youth today. Almost all youth use the internet, and the majority of them access the web via a mobile device and communicate using social media.

There are many types of social media, the majority of which are free, and they range from general to those tailored for a specific demographic or interest area. Social media tools let you link or upload photos and videos, create a blog, post or link to events, join groups, or send messages to enhance engagement with your audience.

Challenges of Using Social Media

It is common for organizations to decide they need to use social media before developing a strategy for how they will use them, and if they are selecting the right channel(s) to deliver their message. Creating a Facebook page, for example, doesn't mean that youth will automatically visit that page. To use social media effectively, your strategy needs to include a plan for launching use of the social media tool(s), a promotion plan to reach your target youth audience, and an engagement plan for how you will keep youth engaged in an ongoing conversation.

In addition to the information on each of the social media tool pages, the following are a few overarching resources to help you get started with developing a social media plan. The National Minority Council has developed comprehensive guides to using social media: HIV Prevention Goes Social and HIV Prevention Goes Social Part II. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Family and Youth Services Bureau, developed a tip sheet for their Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program on Using Social Media to Engage Participants. It is also important to research which tool will best reach your target audience. The Pew Research Center provides demographics on the most popular social networking platforms.

Page last updated: April 2018