Earlier this month we posted a blog on the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s report about African Americans and technology use. The data in the Pew report revealed that almost a quarter of African Americans who are online access Twitter, with 40% of 18-29 year old African American internet users on the site.
We often report on current trends and communication tools that leverage emerging technologies to reach diverse audiences. At AIDS.gov we are always trying to learn more about how our audiences use social media so we can reach them with our messages and partner with influencers in the community. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is around the corner (this Friday, February 7) so the recent media attention on diverse communities using social media is interesting, specifically, “Black Twitter.” It reminds us that our on-line communities are an opportunity to promote and discuss health and HIV-related issues.
According to a Washington Post article , Black Twitter is described as “…part cultural force, cudgel, entertainment and refuge. It is its own society within Twitter and, centered on the interests of young blacks online.” The Huffington Post recently published an article highlighting the top Black Twitter moments of 2013. This is one of many online communities of people coming together to voice their opinions and ideas on a diverse range of topics.
For the HIV community, as mentioned above, online communities are an opportunity to promote discussions on health and HIV. To get some insight how HIV is discussed in the “Black Twitter” community, we searched the hashtag #aidsinblackamerica and it yielded results dating back to July 2012 of a conversation on a PBS Frontline documentary . These tweets include a collection of facts, questions, and opinions on not only the film, but also the larger issue of HIV in America. Many of those in the HIV community used Twitter as an opportunity to promote HIV testing and care information. Examples of tweets include links to Federal resources , people sharing their personal stories of living with HIV, and tweets of HIV statistics from the documentary.
We asked Meredith Clark, the Editor, North Raleigh News & Midtown Raleigh News and Roy H. Park Fellow/Ph.D. student at UNC Chapel Hill how Black Twitter promotes discussions on health and specifically HIV. She told us, “Twitter is a tool that has empowered individuals to control the dialogue about things that happen in their everyday lives. The candidness means mentions of HIV may be serious or offhand, but it also means the conversation is happening, and it’s happening in an open space where it can have a real impact on thousands (if not millions) of people. Information, support, building community — all of it is possible, and is happening, on Twitter.”
The diversity of communities on social networks signifies another way that people receive and distribute information. It is through the conversations on these platforms that people in the HIV community can start important discussions on HIV/AIDS awareness. It is about using new media to reach people on the platforms that they already use and participating in relevant and trending discussions.
How do the people you are trying to reach use Twitter? Please share your thoughts and comments, we want to hear from you!
Are you following us on Twitter? For HIV/AIDS updates follow us @AIDSgov .