Engaging with Communities of Color Using New Media
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Organizer: Meico Whitlock
May 24, 2012
2:00 pm ET
Coordinator: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode and will remain in a listen-only mode throughout today’s conference.
This conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.
I would now like to turn the call over to your host, Mr. Miguel Gomez, Director of aids.gov.
Go ahead sir. You may begin.
Miguel Gomez: Thank you ma’am. And this is Miguel Gomez of aids.gov and it’s May 24. And I really want to welcome everyone to today’s call on Communities of Color and New Media Use. I can’t tell you how truly excited we are to have this wonderful lineup of new media, public health, community leaders, and they’ll be introducing themselves shortly.
But today’s call is part of our ongoing work at aids.gov to support efforts to leverage new media and emerging technology, and those tools to reach and engage organizations and leaders serving the community where HIV is most heavily concentrated.
This call is also follows the goals of the national HIV strategy release by President Obama. And we’re very excited it also supports the principles of the just released Federal Digital Strategy to make sure that we’re all well educated about the activities we work in and we engage with experts who know and work with those communities we’re trying to engage.
What’s so important about today’s call for us is that it is for our federal colleagues, because we’re starting at home at educating ourselves. But we will share this information with all of our key stakeholders. And I also encourage everyone to visit aids.gov for more information on using new media in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
We’re going to turn it over to my colleague Aisha Moore, who is going to be our moderator today. She’s our Communication Director for aids.gov. And she manages our day-to-day communication activities.
I do want to do a special thank you to Meico Whitlock, who is also on the aids.gov team, who coordinated today’s call.
I’m going to turn it over to Aisha.
Aisha Moore: Thank you Miguel. Good afternoon to everyone on the phone, and David. Thank you to all of our speakers today. My colleagues across the federal government, we’re really glad that you’ve all joined us today to learn more about communities of color and the way they use the media.
As many of you probably know, people of color lead the way in the way we use mobile and participate on many social media platforms. Communities of color also bear a disproportionate burden of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. So because these two trends kind of cross one another, we are looking to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the release of the Federal Digital Strategy yesterday by the White House and it - because it calls on us to work in a more efficient and coordinate the way we serve the public as effectively as possible.
But aids.gov, we see new and emerging communication tools as essential to affectively reaching and engaging organizations and leaders for serving the communities most impacted by HIV. So what we’re going to do here today is discuss the state of new media and how we can leverage these tools to respond to the epidemics.
And today’s call continues a conversation that was started in 2009 when aids.gov convened a similar call to discuss this topic. So we thought it was time to update you all on what’s going on, because as we know things change rapidly in the field of social media.
So to go ahead and get the call started, we’ve invited ten people who work in the field of social media to come and share their thoughts with us today. So as we start this conversation, I’d like to ask each speaker to introduce their self and very briefly state your name, what you do, and share with us what’s your favorite new media tool. So we’re going to start with Dr. Jose Bauermeister.
Please introduce yourself.
Dr. Jose Bauermeister: Hi. Good afternoon. I’m Jose Bauermeister. I’m originally from Puerto Rico, but somehow I ended up stuck in Michigan. I direct the Sexuality & Health Lab at the School of Public Health, where we look at the intersections of technology, partner seeking behaviors, and HIV risk among other health disparities. And I have to say that for this particular population, we really still stick to Facebook as our favorite social media app.
Aisha Moore: Thank you Dr. Bauermeister. Next, let’s hear from Oriol Gutierrez.
Oriol Gutierrez: Hi. Again, my name is Oriol Gutierrez. I’m the Deputy Editor of POZ Magazine. And I’m also the Editor in Chief of Tu Salud Magazine, which focuses on general Latino health with a heavy emphasis on HIV. Both are owned by Smart + Strong, which is a healthcare information company.
We have several brands. One that deals with African-American health, which is called Real Health. Sane, which deals with mental health. And Hep, which deals with hepatitis. And of course, AIDSMeds, which deals with treatment for HIV/AIDS.
So part of my role here is to manage kind of the day-to-day stuff. And of course, that includes social media. And I think one of the most exciting things that we have seen is just kind of the growth of usage by our audience of social media, and I’m sure that we can talk more about that.
Aisha Moore: Great. Thank you. So next, we’ll hear from Andre Blackman.
Andre Blackman: Hi. Yes. This is Andre Blackman. I am the founder of Pulse + Signal, which is a consultancy around digital communications and strategy, and a real fan of using innovative communications, and bringing to life new ideas around public health.
I’m also the founder of - co-founder of the FastForward Health Film Festival, which looks at visual story telling around innovative concepts in global health. So I’m really excited to be here.
Aisha Moore: Thank you. And can you tell us your favorite social media tool?
Andre Blackman: Yes. It would have to be Twitter for the amount of information and people connecting that it offers.
Aisha Moore: Thanks Andre. So next, we’ll hear from Erika-Nicole Kendall.
Erika-Nicole Kendall: Good afternoon everyone. I’m Erika-Nicole Kendall. I am a blogger at my website, which is A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss. I’ve been in a - tons of places, from the New York Times to NPR, Essence, Ebony, basically talking about health, wellness, weight loss, body image, culture -- all these things that kind of cultivate into what is my experiences, as far as losing weight, and becoming healthier, and being more health conscience.
And my favorite social media tool would have to be Twitter just because of the rapid-fire pace in which information can be spread quickly and efficiently.
Aisha Moore: Thanks Erika. So next, we hear from Shwen Gwee.
Shwen Gwee: Hi. This is Shwen Gwee. I am VP of Digital Health at Edelman, which is a communications agency. I’ve been here just over a year now. I’m sorry, just under a year now. And before this, I was actually with Vertex Pharmaceuticals and I actually spent the last six or seven years in pharmaceuticals.
At Vertex, I led digital strategy in the social media, which is very similar to the role that I play here now at Edelman. But there I was preparing to launch the commercialization of the company, as well as very involved with the hepatitis C franchise, so I helped launch their unbranded website and prepared them for launch of the (Miranda) campaign as well, so very tied into the infectious diseases space.
I’m also the founder of a movement called Social Health, which is really meant to be like an un-conference, where we bring together people from across the spectrum of healthcare to help talk about - figure out how we can sort of break down the barriers that come between the different verticals of health so that we can talk together, and then unifying (unintelligible) social media and how that bridges us together.
And in terms of my favorite platform it would also have to be Twitter I must say, and for all of the reasons that have stated before. It’s also a platform where I’ve also met a lot of people, and connected with a lot of people, and found a lot of interesting and important information.
Aisha Moore: Thank you. So as we go in the conversation, you guys can all add more about, you know, why you think Twitter is a good way to reach people.
So next, I’d like Venton Jones to give his introduction.
Venton Jones: Good afternoon everyone. My name is Venton Jones and I am the Communications and Education Manager for the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition. And I manage communications with a particular emphasis on using social media, to reach black gay men to engage them more in advocacy and policy - national advocacy and policy initiatives.
Aisha Moore: And what’s your favorite social media tool?
Venton Jones: Oh. My favorite social media tool would actually have to be TweetDeck, because it allows you to connect various social media platforms to be able to help existing in many places at once.
Aisha Moore: And for those of you who don’t know, TweetDeck is a full deck; can help you manage (unintelligible) if you’re an organization. If you have multiple accounts, it can help you schedule things in advance and really make the most efficient use of your time on social media.
So next, I would like Tony-Aaron Fuller. Give us your name, where you work, what you do, and your favorite social media tool.
Tony-Aaron Fuller: Hey. ((Foreign Language Spoken)) everyone. My name is Tony-Aaron Fuller. I work for the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center. I’m an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, located in north central Washington state. I work as the Social Marketing Capacity Building Assistant Specialist here at NNAAPC, so we do a lot of HIV native-specific social marketing, using social media.
And as far as Indian country goes, you know, we’re kind of visual learners. We like to tell our stories. The best way to do that is probably on YouTube.
Aisha Moore: Great. Thank you. Next, we’ll have Shireen Mitchell.
Shireen Mitchell: Hi. Yes. My name is Shireen Mitchell. I’m founder of Digital Sisters. I’ve actually worked with strategy and issues to - in terms of reaching communities of color online, starting from the 90s up until present, so I’m very familiar with all the issues. And I currently do digital strategy for non-profit organizations and efficacy groups, including National Academy for State Health Policy, so I do deal with a lot of policy - health policy issues as well.
I would say that my experience over the years includes not just communities of color, but women as well in terms of disparities and issues as it pertains to technology and now social media.
My favorite tool is going to be Twitter. I do have a new little tool I’m playing with called Path. But Twitter for me -- and I think for any organization or any campaign -- is probably the best tool you can have, because the opportunities to reach broader audiences -- and we can probably talk more about this.
And reach people you would normally not reach is a great opportunity on something like Twitter, because Twitter is an open platform. Facebook is a closed platform. And so I always emphasize using networks that are open and allows you to get to more information and reach more people.
Aisha Moore: Great. Thank you. So next, we’ll have David Stupplebeen.
David Stupplebeen: Yes. This is David Stupplebeen. I’m the Media and Communications Coordinator at Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center in San Francisco. I manage the social networking aspects for the agency. We do HIV care services and HIV community education. We also have a transgender drop-in center here.
I also do the social networking for the Banyan Tree Project, which is both a national anti-stigma social marketing campaign, as well as a community - I’m sorry, capacity building program through CDC.
And for me personally - well for work, I would have to say my favorite tool is HootSuite, because I can get everything preplanned and move on with the rest of the work that I do. And then personally, my favorite social networking platform is Pinterest. I’m sort of a Pinterest addict on the weekends, so those are my two.
Aisha Moore: And for those of you who don’t know what Pinterest is, it’s a way to pin images -- visually inspirational. So you should definitely check out Pinterest and think about how you may be able to incorporate that into your social media plan.
So last, we’ll have Fard Johnmar. Can you please introduce yourself?
Fard Johnmar: Yes. Can you hear me?
Aisha Moore: Yes.
Fard Johnmar: Okay. Yes. I’m happy to be on the call today. Thank you very much for the initiation. My name is Fard Johnmar. I’m founder of a health marketing communications innovation consultancy called Enspektos. The first time I participated on this call we were called Envision Solutions and since our name has changed.
We tend - we focus on providing strategy research and training services to a range of health organizations focusing on digital health. One of the areas that we really specialize in is helping organizations to understand the intersection between how people use online and new media technologies to perceptions, awareness, and behavior, and how that compares to offline influences on how people decide to take action, as well as their perceptions of various health issues.
And in terms of my favorite social tool, I’d have to say I have to agree with Shwen, and Andre, and a number of other people that Twitter has been a real help, because it allows me to really keep up with many things that are going on as they relate to the technology space.
And the other one, which is perceived as less social but has been very helpful as well has been email. You know? I’m bringing that in because I really rely on that for helping and - helping me keep up as well. So thank you very much for inviting me to the call.
Aisha Moore: All right. Thank you. Did I miss anyone? Okay. So now, let’s turn to today’s topic of discussion.
We have some discussion questions. And I will sort of point them to certain folks that we think would be able to answer, and then everyone else feel free to chime in. So the first question is for Fard, Andre. and Shwen.
Our participants in the last aids.gov discussion call about using new media to reach communities of color back in 2009, how do you think new media has changed since that time? And how has that - this change impacted the way you reach and engage communities online?
Andre Blackman: This is Andre. I’ll just go ahead and jump in with a couple of thoughts that I had in mind. I would first say even beyond the actual content or social media, I think the devices and the tools have obviously changed, like we retrieved before about, you know, light-speed changes going on in social media.
But I think tools and devices, like the iPad and more the mobile-leaning devices have really shaped how social media enters into our daily lives and just kind of really distributing a lot of the content that comes out; putting it in our hands, and just having it, you know, on the kitchen table -- that sort of thing. So I think the devices that actually, you know, transport the social media have changed quite a bit.
And, you know, just overall, the curation of content now, just looping it around because there’s so much out there now. There’s so many people talking and there’s so many organizations, you know, putting out content that it’s really curating the content now for specific uses and making it tailored for what you’re interested in.
Shwen Gwee: Yes. I knew I should have jumped in early because Andre, I think you stole a lot of the thunder there. You know?
But I think I’d agree that mobile especially has really grown in the last few years and that has become a real big component to driving a lot of the social aspects in reaching people. So access to these devices have become so low in terms of the barriers to entry that a lot of people really are able to take the opportunity of using them. So I think mobile has become a big part of it. And really having a point of presence anywhere that they’d want that information is going to be really important as well.
I think also related to that issue is the fact that just in general people are getting much more comfortable with these tools, so it’s not something new that they’re hesitant to look for health information. It’s something that they turn to first now because it’s so accessible and it’s immediately with them when they think about it.
And - but having said that, I think there - besides the examples, which, you know, were much lesser in 2009, we had a few. They were good examples but they are sort of building up. Now we actually have success stories and we’ve seen what people are doing with them, so it’s been very interesting.
And also, I think even when we think about mobile, not just apps but just access to the Internet through mobile devices, as well as just as simple as text messaging has some very successful case studies that have been shown recently.
Aisha Moore: So mobile has really been one of the things to kind of be a game changer in this field.
Shwen Gwee: Yup.
Fard Johnmar: I would agree with both Shwen and Andre regarding how technologies have changed. I think specifically as it relates to communities of color what we’ve seen in the mobile space is that especially for lower income Americans, we’ve seen mobile technologies really be helping to reduce the digital divide in terms of people actually having access to the Internet, so that’s been a real, you know, game changer as well.
On the other side though, I think a couple years ago when we first spoke -- I guess three years ago now -- we tended to focusing a lot - focus a lot on specific technologies. I think we still do that to some extent. But there are some real issues I think that are coming to the fore in terms of how people are trying to reach people via digital technologies, in terms of understanding its appropriate place. And also understanding the fact that as these technologies have proliferated, the attention span of folks has really reduced.
And people are becoming a lot more sophisticated about filtering out vast amounts of information that are available to them. So I think where we’re going now -- and I see this happening over the next couple of years -- is a deeper understanding of how people are utilizing these tools in their everyday - and in a real world way, and then adjusting to that.
And then communicators and marketers adjusting to that so that they have the ability to deliver information that will have a much better chance of finding the people who need to see it the most. So those are some of the trends that I’ve seen kind of evolve over the past three years.
Aisha Moore: Okay. And what you are really saying there is to look up at people first and who you’re trying to reach and not go towards the technology first.
Fard Johnmar: Absolutely. I mean, I’ve seen that - the people first mantra be something that a lot more people are bringing up.
In fact, I’m reading a book right now called Face to Face, which is a really interesting book focusing on word-of-mouth marketing and the intersection between what people talk about offline versus what they talk about online. And yes, you’re absolutely right that that particular book - and I’ve said this to my clients and others that having a people-first approach as opposed to technology and also a content-first approach.
I think content is becoming increasingly important in terms of how do you build content that reaches people and is going to be relevant. So all of that is very, very much focused on the individual or individuals you’re trying reach, as opposed to the other way around saying -- well I need a Twitter strategy, YouTube strategy, Facebook strategy. You know, all of those are channels to reach people. But it’s really the content that has the most ability to reach large amounts of people in a variety of ways.
Aisha Moore: All right. Thank you. In interest of time, I’m not going to throw this one out to the group and I’m just going to move on to the next question. So the next question is for Oriol and Jose.
So the part of your work, it involves engaging Latinos, both in English and Spanish speaking. So could the both of you share one or two of the greatest challenges you faced in new media and using new media to reach those community - particularly on public health related topics? And how are you addressing those challenges?
Dr. Jose Bauermeister: This is Jose. That’s a great question. We actually headed to be really top-down, so we were expecting to be able to advertise and recruit people to participate in needs assessments and in planning intervention with our community partners, and the such. And we realized that there’s this huge digital divide when you start looking at who has access, or at least quality access to whether it be a smart phone or access to computers, especially in the Detroit metro area.
And so what we started doing is actually rather than beckon them to come, we actually partnered with community agencies and got a few youth leaders (unintelligible) community to become basically our recruiters. They know where people are at, when they’re accessing information, and what are some of the key words that people are looking for. In some ways help muddle away - take away all the muddle that they’re getting filtered into. You know?
I’ve seen that at least in this area Latinos is one of our priority populations, which is wonderful, but they also get bombarded with all these public health messages. And so it’s important to kind of figure out approaches from the ground up to kind of stand out.
Oriol Gutierrez: Hi. This is Oriol. You know, I - we have a couple of different answers I guess. So POZ obviously was born in 1994 and has a long history and a lot of trust within the HIV/AIDS community. You know?
However, lots of communities and individuals may not feel attachment to that brand or may not feel comfortable picking up a POZ to get the information that they need. So, you know, Real Health and Tu Salud kind of were born from that challenge to kind of, you know, have a general information, general content about health, obviously with a lot of HIV content in there. It was really kind of a way to make sure that we were delivering that content to those audiences in a way that was going to be consumed.
And at the end of the day, that’s really the challenge for all of us; is, you know, the technology is great as one speaker said, but it’s really about the content and the people. And, you know, connecting the content to the people. And that these are just tools to do that.
So, you know, another challenge we’ve faced of course is the issue of bilingualism and how much content is necessary in English or in Spanish. And, you know, I don’t think that we’ve come up with definitive answers there yet.
But what I can say is that at least on Tu Salud we do deliver content both in English and in Spanish. But the balance really kind of weighs more towards English and just for the simple matter that a lot of Latinos are actually, you know, fluent in both languages. And so we can still deliver content that’s relevant to a Latino audience in English and that that’s totally valid.
That’s not to say that of course the Spanish isn’t necessary. It’s actually vital for monolingual people and also just delivers culturally appropriate messages much more profoundly, because obviously it’s in the native language. So we need both I guess is the answer that we’ve come to. And so I would just, you know, I kind of underscore that; that anyone that thinks that they can just deliver messages to a Latino - a broad Latino audience in nothing - in just one or the other, you need both. That’s the lesson that we learned.
Aisha Moore: Thanks Jose. And we’ll come back to you in a little while to talk about some of the innovative work that you’re doing to reach young African-American and Latino men and the work that you do.
So now, I’m going to pose the same question essentially to Tony and David.
So in your work with Asian-Americans and Native Americans respectively, what challenges have you faced?
David Stupplebeen: I can go first. This is David.
One of the challenges that we’ve certainly faced when we’re doing this outreach work online is that, you know, sexual health and sex are still taboo topics within the Asian/Pacific islander communities. So a lot of times people still aren’t ready to receive messaging about getting tested or, you know, finding ways to get treated because they still don’t want to talk about sex. And a lot of messaging that’s out there has actually started over saturating the API community locally.
We’re doing mobile testing here in San Francisco. And we’re asking men who have sex with men who are getting tested in our mobile van, you know, “What’s sort of your opinion of HIV messaging?” And at this point in San Francisco a lot of them are saying, “We’re over saturated.” So trying to hit two birds with one stone as far as the messaging that APIs need to get tested that may work in areas where HIV messaging is not quite as saturated as compared to San Francisco, so that’s one challenge.
And another challenge too is language. APIs speak over 100 different languages and dialects. And obviously, we’re unable to translate all of our messaging into all of those different languages, so that still remains a challenge for us.
Tony-Aaron Fuller: Hey guys. This is Tony at NNAAPC in Denver. You know, challenges that we see honestly is, you know, when we’re working with Indian people or native communities, unless they’re in an urban setting, we’re really kind of looking at ways to make them more computer literate. I know that sounds crazy to most people. But you have to think that these are native people that, you know, didn’t really have computers until maybe 10 or 15 years ago.
And so in terms of behind the curve, just like getting them used to typing in, and logging in, and navigating the Internet is something - I mean, it’s kind of - it sounds crazy but it’s really foundation work that we really start with just to make sure that people are able to access information that way.
The other thing that is challenging for us is also - and I agree with David, it’s a taboo among Indian people. When you talk about sexual wellness and HIV, which is what we focus on, a lot of those behaviors and teachings for your own health and protection are usually taught by elders in that community.
What we see in our community is those elders aren’t in touch with, one, the level of knowledge that they need to know about sexual wellness in today’s world, as well as accessing information on the computer. It’s really not an option for people that are elders that maybe don’t even speak English. So there’s a wide variety of challenges for us.
But I would say the biggest one is just access to technology, and having that foundation and literacy, and just in using a computer.
Aisha Moore: Thanks. So does anyone else in the group want to sort of chime in on the discussion about challenges they face or comment on other challenges that folks have offered us?
Venton Jones: This is Venton Jones. I’d like to add one. I don’t know if this is necessarily specific to the African-American community. I think that it’s something to - that’s been touched upon as far as that being taboo around discussing sex - sexual health.
But also just the stigma still exists around HIV. And sometimes there’s a challenge with getting different groups to share messaging specifically related to their sexual health. Or going even deeper into that, discussing specifically HIV. We - also exist on social media is a broader audience. And that also includes -- if you think about Facebook -- family members and other groups of friends and are - and sometimes really the intersection of different people’s social circles. And so that really has to be looked at.
But I think that what something that is - I’ve been able to do a little bit - a lot of - saw a lot of people who use social media be able to do is to utilize the different private groups that have now come online that really allow people in very niche groups that have really come about and being able to share messaging and encourage people to get information through those different groups that are not necessarily connected to entire groups out there of their social networks through their public spaces.
Shireen Mitchell: This is Shireen. What I would like to add as challenge is also the transition to mobile use. I often hear that, you know, individuals are able to reach the Internet with their mobile phones. But quality is some - another speaker said about quality access is really key, because, you know, honestly the percentage of Latinos and African-Americans that have smart phones is very small in comparison to their, you know, cohorts.
The other thing is that in truth the - and from a mobile perspective there’s twice as much - there’s twice as many users who have SMS and text messaging than those that have smart phones and can get access that way. And generally, in the Latin-American and the African-American communities, if you’re not doing some form of SMS, you won’t be able to reach them.
But on top of that, the other challenges is the pay-as-you-go programs and platforms. I think we’re just reaching the aspect where we can actually reach those types of phones. But initially, it was actually impossible to reach anyone who had a pay-as-you-go mobile phone.
Erika-Nicole Kendall: This is Erika. I wanted to chime in with something else also. One thing that I’ve experienced as far as disseminating health-related information to the black community and, you know, beyond that as well, but this - one of the things that I’ve noticed is the diversity in how the message - how certain messages resonate with certain groups.
You know, there are, like for example, Twitter. Twitter tends to - even though you have access to this vast number of people, you know, provided that your account isn’t private, you have the ability to reach tons and tons of people. Different messages resonate different ways.
So you have the people who have varying education levels, varying levels of income, different types of things attract the eye of that person. And because, you know, you only have 140 characters and you only have the amount of time in which your plea appears on their timeline, you know, to actually draw them and pull them in. You know?
You have to be careful with how you present things and how they - and whether or not within that short amount of time your message can resonate with all of these people who have different backgrounds, have different education levels, have different interests, but all need the information. So that’s just another thing that I wanted to contribute.
Aisha Moore: Okay. So what I’ve been hearing is that we have to think about what platform we use, whether it’s open or closed, what the content is, and what does access really mean. When we hear some of those statistics about who has access to what, there may be sub-groups of folks who have access to one technology over the other. And you really need to focus on who you’re trying to reach and what they want to hear, and the best way to reach them, so...
Everybody, I really want to thank you for sharing your challenges.
Venton Jones: (Unintelligible). But one more thing. You say what you want. And I think it’s also important to realize what people want to see as well, because it’s not always across social media as reading text. It, you know, it could be videos. It could be pictures. It could be text. And so really being able to diversify that message and not only tweak it as far as your number of wording - words that you’re using, but also the imagery that you’re using for different social media platforms just to get your message across.
Aisha Moore: All right. Thanks Venton. So now, we’re going to move from challenges on to success. So this next question is for Erika and Shireen.
So both of you are reaching African-American women and seem to have attracted quite a following in a short period of time. So could each of you share one or two of the successes you’ve had in using new media to reach your audience?
Shireen Mitchell: Okay. I’ll go first. This is Shireen. I would say the biggest key is definitely the aspect of people in relationships. I think what typically happens is that there’s this concept of a silver bullet. And when it comes to technology and people that has never worked. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it still hasn’t worked quite right.
The reason why we still have problems with the digital divide to some of the basic problems that we have, have been overlooked. And one of those is definitely around relationship building and trust.
The other aspect is not just messaging in the sense of just broadcasting. The reason why I have the following that I do is not only do I engage people as people and have conversations with them, which I would say in most instances organizations really struggle with this.
I was working on a campaign trying to reach out to teens around HIV. And although HIV is a very touchy, touchy topic, the biggest challenge was trying to actually engage and actually have a conversation. And that part was the part that I think was missed, because the teens don’t - it’s not that they don’t understand the message that’s being sent to them or understand the concept of it. But when they’re asking questions, or they’re saying things, or rephrasing things, having a conversation with them, which is what social media is really about -- it’s not that one way platform -- is the key to it.
And so with the communities I work with, a lot of it has to do with that. And so the relationship building are key aspects, because then there’s trust. So once there’s a new message, or a new issue, or something else that we have to talk about, it becomes easier for them to listen to that message and understand it in a way that’s not so complicated or they feel like someone’s talking at them and making them feel like they’re lesser than that.
Or talking about an issue in a way that makes them feel like that they’re not informed at all, and that they have no say in the way maybe some solutions can happen. And giving them that power or giving them the ability to just engage in that way, they actually can come up with some pretty good solutions themselves and be open to that as well.
Aisha Moore: Yes. Thanks for throwing in those points about how to reach youth, about Web and access a specific population we were going to talk about, so I’m glad you added that value.
Erika-Nicole Kendall: Yes. You know, she had a great answer. I guess the only thing that I could add is I think that a lot of what the success of my blog stems from is the feedback loop. You know, the ability to put information out there and then have people share how that information affects them. How it - and what their story is.
And then me as a leader, also as well as a writer, taking that, understanding that and saying to myself, you know, “Well how could I better explain this? How could I get this across to the point where people can understand what I’m saying? How can I make sure that my end goal is reached? And how can I use this information that these comments have given me to make that happen?”
You know, the Facebook page is rather large and conversations that we have there I don’t do it often because it can get out of control. But the opportunities to have this access to all these people that - and actually engage them in conversations and have people trolling it, you know, trying to start drama or trying to be - who are trying to stir up something. You know, you - where people - a place where people can share their concerns, their fears, and to understand that.
And then to take that and use that so that you can make sure that you’re providing exactly what information it is that these people need. I think that that’s - I really do think that is what my - what a big part of my readership comes from. And I think that that - and it - that also wound up helping me not only to become a better writer, but to become someone who better understands what it is I do and where the disconnect lies between people and them understanding their bodies and their health.
So I - but the one thing that I would contribute to all the awesome stuff that she offered is the feedback loop; making - and that’s there, and functional, and that there’s somebody on the other end responding and dialoging there.
Aisha Moore: So really talking about creating that two-way conversation and not just being a medium to just push information out.
Erika-Nicole Kendall: Yes. It’s really invaluable to make sure that - because it attaches a - not only - not just that down-to-earth quality, but that informal, casual conversation about this really important message that needs to get across.
Shireen Mitchell: And my only thing that I would add to that is also because people do not connect to buildings and entities. They connect to people. And so it’s really important that no matter what happens that within each organization that’s trying to, you know, address a certain campaign, whether its something as sensitive as AIDS or other issues, especially - it actually - especially as something as sensitive as AIDS is that the trust factor happens when it’s a people-to-people connection.
When it’s an entity-to-people connection, most people don’t trust it. They don’t believe it. And it’s always been a key marketing aspect even for any companies as well. That the biggest challenge is that the people trust people and need to trust people they know. They don’t trust entities and they don’t trust buildings.
Aisha Moore: Thank you. So again, we’re hearing about the people being a - the first factor that we need to look at before we look at the technologies, so thank you.
So next I’m going to go back to Jose. And so you could briefly talk about some of your successes. You’ve been doing some innovative work in reaching young, and African, and Latino men. So could you tell us a little bit about that?
Dr. Jose Bauermeister: Sure. More often than not it’s - it keeps me up at night. We’re trying to figure out new creative ways. And I just - but - so I guess I - the first thing I’ll say has to do with the people factor.
We have developed a incentivized referral system online. And the idea there is that rather than us going into these different spaces and trying to find people that we would like for youth leaders themselves recruit each other into either studies or conversations in the community, and that has been very, very effective for us.
This idea that they - I think they all - they no (unintelligible) on the value of research and they see how a lot of the work that we do here in the School of Public Health actually links to some of our community agencies. But they also feel part of the research process, so they see the change happening versus just hearing about it.
I think the other thing that has been really useful is that we have been trying to equip our community partners with technology, so any type of collaboration that we have we always budget at least two or three laptops so that youth can come in so that they can participate in different aspects of the social process. We just got much - some money from the Ford Foundation and the MAC AIDS Fund, where we’re actually looking at some of the structural inequalities that affect black and Latino young (MSM) in Detroit.
And one of the major things that we’ve been hearing about is that there are so few places where youth can go in and use technology that we really see this piece of equipping or at least letting youth where they can go and access technology is to be vital. And we’re using that actually as a policy campaign to try to revamp and re-lobby for libraries and youth dropping centers, as well as some of the AIDS service organizations in the area who already have computer labs or computer facilities.
The mobile phone part is a little harder. And partly it’s because at least in our community we’ve been having a really hard time getting people to participate or to use their text messaging for dissemination. They, you know, they have a lot of financial difficulties. And so asking them to either call their friends or to text their friends when they have very limited data plans can become problematic. And so we’ve kind of left it up to them to decide when they want to use their minutes.
A lot of our youth have a pay-as-you-go phone, so that also changes. There’s a lot of turnover. And so that’s one of the reasons why we’ve kept to these social network sites, because it’s a place that no matter where they are they can find either a friends house or the library and can kind of reconnect to that online community.
Aisha Moore: Thank you for sharing. So now that we’ve shared successes and challenges, I’d like to turn our attention to specific recommendations. So we’re looking for recommendations for how aids.gov and other HIV programs can communicate and engage in dialog with communities of color using new media tools. So I’m going to start with Venton and Jose.
You both work very closely with young black, gay and bisexual men -- one of the communities hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. So what specific recommendations do you have for aids.gov and other HIV programs?
Venton Jones: I would say that it’s important - organizations like aids.gov cast a very broad net when they’re doing their work. So just being very clear and especially off the comments that have been made on the call to be make sure that you still continue to engage specifically to the populations that you’re trying to reach. And that sometimes includes engaging other organizations that can help you reach that community more effectively.
But just don’t let solely on the larger blog or larger communication message that exists there. But really be engaged in different ways to specifically reach the population that you’re trying to reach, because that may also mean some tweaking to your messaging or language that you use in order to reach people, especially younger people.
Dr. Jose Bauermeister: Yes. I would have to agree with that. I think that the other part is I’m a really big advocate of capacitating youth. And so whether it be through internships, or giving some of the partners or stakeholders funds, or even directing them towards funds that would allow them to have youth interns who learn about HIV, who can use social media can become leaders in their own communities, I think that always has long-term successes.
Venton Jones: But also what I would like to add is that I think that this is also something that’s clear but just maybe something that should be reiterated; is that your leadership would be - is going to different. And so make sure that you’re being aware of the leadership on social media comes in different, you know, age ranges, expertise, content. And being able to really, you know, look under rocks for people with high followers and being able to use them as potential, you know, spokes people to get new followers or to get new content. But it is really important to have the buy-in.
You know, more on the physical space you see elders. But I think that in the virtual space it’s more or less your peers that really drive buy-in. So being able to get buy-in from those peer groups is definitely critical.
Aisha Moore: Right. So we need to re-examine who we see as the experts and go back to some of the stuff that we know about who natural leaders are. And think of them also not just in the physical space but in the social media space as well.
Venton Jones: Absolutely, because your leaders in a social media space could be somebody who posts videos on a weekly basis, or somebody, you know, who’s not your typical, you know, organizational leader or employee. It could just be someone who’s just doing this in their living room at their spare time, but have a, you know, significant following because of the content that they pay; so the kind of content that they can - that they put to - onto social media.
Aisha Moore: Great. So I’d like to throw this question out to the entire group. If everyone - if we can go around and get one recommendation that folks have for aids.gov and other HIV programs about engaging in dialog with community colors - communities of color using social media tools. So why don’t we start with...
Oriol Gutierrez: (Unintelligible)...
Aisha Moore: Oh. Go ahead.
Oriol Gutierrez: So I was just going to say - this is Oriol. So it’s been said a million times, especially in the introductions, about Twitter. And I love Twitter and everyone loves Twitter and - but I got to say it again. I personally love Twitter and the facts show that people of color love Twitter also, so I just want to put that out there on the record.
I mean, there was a study last year from the Pew Internet folks that, you know, made that plainly clear; that, you know, blacks and Latinos really, really engage in and prefer Twitter, so...
Not to say that Facebook isn’t great of course and all the other social media platforms. But Twitter does seem to be something very specific and unique for African-American and Latino audiences.
Shireen Mitchell: This is Shireen. I would say my recommendation is that Facebook is great but you also have to remember there is no checkbox for ethnicity on Facebook. So even though we’re talking about communities of colors and reaching them, Facebook is a very difficult tool to use if you’re trying to do target advertising or reach specific groups. And of course you have to be friends of a friend of a friend or have people Friend your page in order to be able to reach that group.
So I’m going to concur that Twitter is a great opportunity. I think that if you use Twitter effectively, one of the best ways to use them is track hash tags. And if you’re really trying to reach sort of the younger population, you know, one of the things you have to do in terms of strategy is actually look a little bit later in the day. That means actually checking out hash tags that, you know, maybe if you want to do early in the morning. But a lot of the conversation with those young teens or even young women are at late hours, like the 10 o’clock hour.
If you’re on the West Coast it’s a lot easier to do. But on the East Coast you definitely need to be up a little bit later to actually do a dialog or engage on Twitter with that population.
Aisha Moore: I’d like to - we’re still going to go around. I’d like to throw in another question that folks maybe can answer. And it’s also what do you think - what are one or two things that you think are important for leaders of communities of color? So either a recommendation or something important for leaders of communities of color.
Tony-Aaron Fuller: Hey. This is Tony in Denver from NNAAPC. I think, you know, leadership is a big issue with us in Indian country because I think that’s really where the stamp approval on the community buy-in comes from. And so as far as leaders in our community, it’s just really important to have current and updated knowledge on what HIV means and how it’s affecting Indian people specifically.
As far as aids.gov goes, like the only suggestion I would make is that - and this is going to sound really strange. But being a native person and someone that grew up from a reservation, we took a lot of pride in seeing native faces in a lot of the imagery and marketing that goes into social media. And so if you can see another native person in the line of the many colors of people that are on an image and it stands out and it identifies them as a native person, it has a big impact.
And it broadens that engagement for us, because a lot of times native people are the kind of ambiguous brown person in the photo. We don’t really know if they’re native, or Latino, or Hawaiian, or whatnot. And so those images really do mean something to us. And we take a lot of pride in seeing that, so that would be one suggestion I would make.
David Stupplebeen: And this is David from API Wellness in San Francisco. I have to concur with what Tony just said, because even in our community you’ll have somebody go, “Well that person is obviously Chinese and I’m Philippino, so this doesn’t apply to me.”
But one of the suggestions I would also put out to aids.gov is to interface with some of the different - or actually everybody on the call today interface with some of those gatekeepers within the Asian & Pacific Islander community, especially around sexual health. Because right now a lot of the marketing that’s happening is around hepatitis B, but it only concentrates around vertical transmission rather than sexual transmission.
David Stupplebeen: So if everybody can help normalize the conversation about sex, then that would actually help us do our work and be more supportive in reducing stigma around sex, and sexual health, and of course HIV.
Andre Blackman: Yes. This is Andre. Fantastic things that I’ve been hearing. But to talk about the leader aspect, I would say I think mentorship in general when it comes to leadership is important.
And especially in this kind of a realm of public health a lot of people rise up to leadership ranks that may not have had, you know, specific examples coming before them. So I think building up a lot of the maybe mentorship or having other examples of people for those individuals in the community to look up to or to shape some of the, you know, initiatives after would be helpful.
And also just, you know, staying current on reading. I mean, it’s something that I’ve, you know, try to try after a lot is trying to stay up to date on any kind of, you know, leadership books or things that really make an impact in your community. Kind of like, you know, what Fard mentioned earlier about the book around Face to Face and just kind of staying up to date on information that would make things helpful. So those are just two things that I just thought about.
And as far as aids.gov, one thing that Jose said a while back was just talking about bottom-up kind of innovation and that sort of thing. And that’s something I’m super passionate about; is the concept of co-creation and having regular feedback on your initiatives for the people that you’re serving, rather than, you know, putting together a large-scale campaign and then doing, you know, “Focus groups.” That doesn’t really, you know, get involved in the natural process. And so that would kind of be my other input.
Fard Johnmar: I...
Aisha Moore: Okay. I’m not sure we’re going to get to everyone, so I have time for one, maybe two more comments.
Fard Johnmar: (Unintelligible)...
Shwen Gwee: This is Shwen. If I could - oh. Go ahead Fard.
Fard Johnmar: Oh, okay. Sorry Shwen. I’ll be real quick so you can get in as well.
One of the things actually we’d really love aids.gov actually to take - I mean, you’re doing a great job with this in terms of providing educational resources to folks with regard to using new media. And you’re blog is excellent. And your podcasts are excellent.
I think one of the things that would really be helpful is for aids.gov to take a leadership role in terms of conducting original research in terms of new media to help kind of clear up some questions as a - that, you know, I think a lot of us still have about what does the digital divide actually mean in practice for communities of color as it relates to HIV/AIDS. What are some, you know, statistics that we can hang our hats on as we go into these communities that’s maybe localized by region, et cetera? You know? So...
And there’s a lot of stuff that you could do in that area. But I think having aids.gov accelerate its new media research and knowledge generation would be really critical, because there’s a lot of people that I know who really would love to have access to that type of knowledge content. And I think aids.gov is in a great place to accelerate a lot of that.
Aisha Moore: Okay. We’re getting close. So Shwen, you have 140 characters to post your recommendation.
Shwen Gwee: How about if I have one minute to buzz through everything? Hearing everything that people said today, I think there is a couple of things I thought about.
One is you don’t have to do it alone. And maybe what you can do is sponsor or find sponsors for challenges or competition, which is not really social media in itself but social media mindset, where you’re empowering other people to create the solution for these communities. And really having thinkers from all over come together to challenge and bring up the best ideas to create solutions for platforms or on different mobile devices that may be useful to these communities.
And lead - and so related to that is creating more things that can be taken from online to offline. Again, not so social from a online perspective, but certainly from mindset. How can we create the online/offline sort of connection just hearing from what people are saying today?
And one example of the offline connections is maybe a lesson from the pharmaceutical industry funny enough might be interesting. And that is to create an online - sorry, a physical summit where you can bring together these leaders that you see who are online influences and bloggers to find out from them what they need to grow their community and get the word out even more. And for - and even have them as leaders to educate others. How do you use these tools to get the word out to their communities? Kind of where - what I was thinking based on everything I heard today.
Aisha Moore: Thanks Shwen. So I’m - unfortunately, I won’t be able to get to everyone else. We’re at time now. I just want to thank everybody for a wonderful discussion. It was really great. I learned a great deal today. So now I’m going to turn it back over to Miguel.
Miguel Gomez: Great. And Aisha, wonderful job ma’am. Thank you so very much. And I thank Meico at the top of the call. And I want to say special thank you to all the panelists. This was an amazing dialog that we’re looking forward to actually continuing.
And not only will we share as Meico mentioned in correspondence that we’ll blog about what we learned. We’ll share with our other federal colleagues. But I must admit I must have come up with 15 different blog ideas during today’s call.
And also we’re very fortunate that over 2500 press will be at the International AIDS Conference. And many of them working on and using new media as their tool for communication. And so we’ll continue the dialog with our colleagues during the International AIDS Conference.
But when you all get an evaluation for today’s call, we’ll ask you about are there ways in which we can stay in a dialog with you, each other. And are there ways in which we might be able to support your new media efforts?
I have one other thank you that I want to give. And I want to thank (Michelle Taylor) of (unintelligible) associate. She’s helping take today’s notes and we appreciate that contribution to the call.
And I want to remind everyone that just starting now is a live broadcast from OMD outlining the new digital strategy, which starts at 3:00, so you’re already 10 minutes late. Meico has sent out - or will send - he has sent out to you the link. But again, it will be important to know that that you can -- good news -- watch online later. At least I hope that’s true and I didn’t lie to you.
But again, the federal government -- we’re very proud -- has said that we can no longer operate how we have. And we have to think and use these tools differently. And I really want to thank you for guiding our conversation to better use and better serve those we work to reach, so I want to thank you. And I hope everyone has a great afternoon. Take care. Bye-bye.
Coordinator: This concludes today’s conference. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.