Social media platforms are continually evolving, and it is important to stay abreast of how our audience is engaging with each tool and its features. Data from the last Pew Internet Social Media Update [PDF 544KB] have helped formulate AIDS.gov’s social media goals for 2015. Early in the year, we shared our first new media goal for 2015: to increase visuals in our social media content.
Today, we share our second goal for 2015: Keeping up with digital trends.
Every Friday, the AIDS.gov Project Director and New Media Team review our social media activities and results to evaluate the reach, relevance, and features of our platforms. This regular review gives us an opportunity to see which channels are providing us an opportunity to connect with the HIV community—and which are not. Over time, some channels move from the first group to the second.
For example, in 2011, AIDS.gov joined one of the first social media platforms to offer publicly visible “check-ins” at events. This was a useful way for the HIV community to meet at events. It also offered AIDS.gov a way to let our followers know we were present at a particular event and would be sharing HIV information with them, even if they were not attending the event themselves.
As a part of our weekly channel review, we noticed a significant slowdown in our traffic on this tool in early 2014. A comparison of our engagement rates to national trends over time, from sites like Mashable, Pew Internet, and Tech Crunch, validated our observation – this tool’s check-in feature was indeed losing momentum, both overall and in the HIV community.
It is easy to join a new social media platform—and just as easy to delete a social media account. But you need to consider your relationship with your follower-base when developing an exit strategy for any social media channel. We concluded that this tool was no longer a strong connector to the HIV community for us, and we chose to discontinue it. However, we didn’t want to lose our followers, so we alerted them to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where we now share our event-related activities. Shortly after, the company managing the tool decided to eliminate its check-in function, which validated our decision to proactively move away from that tool.
It is important to note that the fact that this particular tool’s check-in feature lost momentum is not unique; other social media platforms too have gained and lost crowd appeal over time. This constant change emphasizes our message – it is crucial to monitor digital trends that affect your community.
If you or your organization would like help in developing a digital monitoring strategy—or answering other social media questions—you can get free, one-on-one technical assistance from an AIDS.gov social media expert by signing up for AIDS.gov’s Virtual Office Hours.
How do you keep up with digital trends? Have you found that your following prefers one social media channel over another?