Author: 
Cary James
Calum McSwiggan
Takudzwa Mukiwa
Arjan Van Bijnen
Koenraad Vermey
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
December 1, 2017

"Online and digital/social media are increasingly important communication channels for reaching audiences in a targeted and cost-effective manner....[T]he use of the technology by gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) has often been the subject of research. However, many HIV organisations lack the experience and knowledge needed to use this online digital/social media effectively for STI/HIV prevention."

Commissioned by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and created in collaboration with the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and STI AIDS Netherlands (SANL), this series provides guides to the effective use of digital platforms for sexually transmitted infection (STI)/HIV prevention among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA). The seven guides, each of which can be used on its own or as part of a wider online strategy, incorporate the expertise of stakeholders from EU/EEA Member States, scientific literature relating to social media and digital platforms, commercial sector best practice, and engagement with the platform companies themselves.

The guides are designed to help users understand:

  • the digital platforms available and how to use them for effective HIV prevention;
  • the costs associated with a successful advertising campaign and how to distribute budget accordingly;
  • how digital platforms have been successfully used by others;
  • how to reach MSM populations;
  • how to optimise content for maximum impact; and
  • how to measure the success of outreach and apply the experience to future work.

Concrete tips are provided. For example, from the YouTube guide: "When creating content, ensuring that it is engaging should be your top priority. Before you publish your first video it is worth considering the following:

  • Be brief: try to keep your videos short and to the point. Looking at your video analytics can show the watch time of your videos and where your audience are dropping off. Experiment with different video lengths to see what works best for them...
  • Be timely: be reactive and create content related to breaking news and current events. Plan ahead to take advantage of relevant 'tent pole' occasions such as World AIDS Day...
  • Utilise links: even though link clicks may not be your core objective, always give your audience the option to get involved and find out more by including a link to a relevant website...
  • Create quality content: invest the extra time and money into curating and creating high quality material. Higher quality content means higher engagement.
  • Create a two-way dialogue:...Encourage your audience to share your content and engage in conversation.
  • Keep it simple: do not overwhelm your audience with too much information or multiple calls to action. Keep it clear and make it as easy as possible for your audience to engage..."

Here are links to the available guides:

  1. Effective use of digital platforms for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men in the European Union/European Economic Area: An introduction to the ECDC guides [7 pages]
  2. Use of Facebook for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men in the European Union/European Economic Area [12 pages]
  3. Use of Twitter for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men in the European Union/European Economic Area [11 pages]
  4. Use of YouTube for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men in the European Union/European Economic Area [11 pages]
  5. Use of Google AdWords for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men in the European Union/European Economic Area [14 pages]
  6. Use of smartphone application advertising for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men in the European Union/European Economic Area [10 pages]
  7. Use of online outreach for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men in the European Union/European Economic Area [15 pages]
Source: 

ECDC website, December 7 2017. Image credit: ECDC