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National HIV Testing Day Twitter Town Hall Recap

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Susan Robinson, MS

Susan Robinson, MS, NCHHSTP

This year's National HIV Testing Day is now behind us, but what a whirlwind of events and activities! This year, we saw an unprecedented use of social media to get out the NHTD message, Take the Test. Take Control. One in particular was highlighted in the May 25th Blog: The NHTD Twitter Town Hall. It was a great success, thanks to key partners such as the National Association of People with AIDS Exit Disclaimer (NAPWA), AIDS.gov, and the technical acumen of folks at CDC's National Prevention Information Network Exit Disclaimer (NPIN), who hosted the event. Being at "tweet central" for the town hall at the NPIN Atlanta office was enlightening!

@CDCNPIN Welcome to the 1st Twitter Town Hall to foster dialogue among those planning events/activities for Jun 27 #NHTD

Without further ado, here's what we learned:

1. Great partners are key to a successful Twitter Town Hall, because it is their network of followers that extend the reach of the event.

NPIN Welcome Tweet

Jessica Schindelar, CDC eHealth; Dr. Jonathan Mermin, DHAP; and Jennie Johnston, DHAP

Here's some data on Twitter Activity during the Town Hall:

  • There were approximately 1,005 tweets from 145 separate accounts using the #NHTD hashtag Exit Disclaimer
  • A number of influential followers — those with many followers on their networks —took part. Here's a few of the most influential (numbers as of 6/29/10):
  • We observed that people kept using the hash tag and continued tweeting as we neared the actual National HIV Testing Day. The potential reach of the Town Hall is estimated at approximately 243,479, which is the total number of followers for the 145 Town Hall participants.

2. When you promote a shared concern using social media, you reach an incredibly diverse set of groups and individuals who care. We're still sorting out all the different types of tweeters who participated, but for example, during our town hall, here's some of the prevention partners who were on the line:

  • Individuals active in HIV/AIDS, public health, social media: 49
  • Community-based organizations (CBOs): 35
  • Consumers: 25*
  • National groups/businesses: 16
  • Federal agencies & health departments: 15
  • Media: 5

*NOTE: "Consumers" is the category for participants who did not identify themselves as belonging to one of the partner categories.

3. Lots of different kinds of conversations occur in a Twitter Town Hall. Here's some of the themes we observed:

  • People talked about NHTD plans and promotions
@stacysmallwood last year we did a 'text-a-friend-to-test' day at church. set up laptops, food, invited ppl to text/facebook/tweet their friends #NHTD
  • Others shared facts and figures
@RocVictAlliance #NHTD In 2007, heterosexual contact accounted for 83% of diagnoses among women. Help end AIDS. Click: http://rochestervictoryalliance.org
  • Partners were able to connect, support, and build relationships. This is a tweet that was retweeted 10 times, resulting in a stream of good ideas and connections:
@1loveproject We need youth who are unafraid to talk about testing with their peers. Create a social norm around testing for young people #NHTD
@HelpEndHIV @1loveproject Would really like to get a YouTube star to vlog about HIV testing to reach young audiences. Has anyone tried this? #NHTD
@1loveproject Our pos youth want to create a msg 4 their peers. Can use voices not faces. Connect w/us if u want to collaborate http://bit.ly/8XUspw #NHTD
@MetroTeenAIDS exactly our philosophy at MTA, @1loveproject! check ous out at metroteenaids.org & realtalkdc.org #NHTD

4. And finally, when your Twitter Town Hall is over, it isn't over … We observed that people kept using the hash tag, #NHTD, and continued tweeting as we neared the actual National HIV Testing Day (June 27)!

In closing, I have to say that doing a Twitter Town Hall is a blast! And as a community activity, it has all the elements that have long been touted as tenets of good social marketing: it is FUN, it is EASY, and for now, a POPULAR thing to do!

Thanks again to the team who produced the event and all who made it a success. It is our privilege to do this work.

Comments

  1. Enjoyed reading about your twitter town hall event for NHTD. Brilliant concept and well orchestrated. It appears that you connected the right people. The proposal to utilize YouTube is worth investigating. Thank you for the great service you are providing. Best Wishes for continued success.
    Bob Dennin
    Clinical Research Scientist/AIDS/Cancer

  2. Roy Kamen says:

    I agree – great event. Wish there were more like this. HIV testing is so important to the health of our nation.

  3. As always, great post.
    A few follow up questions though that I am hoping will spark some conversation.
    Twitter is an excellent tool to spread news, information and (hopefully) awareness. However, in most cases, the real objective is much larger than this. I would love to know more about the town hall and its possible impact on:
    1) Community: Is there any indication that the event grew or strengthened the community working with HIV/ AIDS issues in substantial ways (i.e. did some of the orgs involved see changes in the size of their follower?).
    2) Behavior Change: Any, even anecdotal (i.e. specific tweets), evidence that the event influenced test taking?
    Thanks and keep up the great, inspirational work.

  4. Hi, I’m with CDC NPIN and am responding to Andrew Wilson’s questions on behalf of Susan Robinson who is away.
    1) Community: Is there any indication that the event grew or strengthened the community working with HIV/ AIDS issues in substantial ways (i.e. did some of the orgs involved see changes in the size of their follower?).
    Some of the groups involved, including CDCNPIN, did see increases in the number of their followers for this event. It was also observed that participants continued conversations with each other in the weeks after the Town Hall.
    2) Any, even anecdotal (i.e. specific tweets), evidence that the event influenced test taking?
    At this point, we are not aware of any anecdotes that suggest the Town Hall influenced test taking, though we do hope that greater awareness and sharing of ideas does affect behaviors in a positive way. Our goal for this Town Hall was to support and encourage organizations to promote NHTD and hold testing events. The level of participation tells us that NHTD is on the radar of many organizations and the goal to increase testing is shared broadly. One outcome to note is that a number of organizations who participated in the Town Hall did submit NHTD events via our form on http://www.hivtest.org after the event. So we are hopeful.

  5. Denise says:

    Wow, I am really impressed. Fantastic event!

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