Using social media to create conversations, understand audience interests, and support co-creation and research participation
Avert’s understanding of social media extends far beyond brand communications. We use social media as core information and education channels, further developing the reach and engagement of our work, particularly with young people across countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Social media allows us to amplify our communications - sharing accurate, trusted and positive information on HIV and sexual health, encouraging conversations, and providing a space to share experiences.
Our understanding of social media and the engagement we get through it provides ongoing insights into what content is relevant and of interest to our audiences. Analysis of this engagement improves our context and audience understanding and feeds in to our content development across projects.
We also use social media to support our approach to user-centred design and co-creation, working with members of our target audiences via WhatsApp and Facebook groups as part of the development and design process. Our social reach has also enabled us to recruit research study participants across Southern Africa.
This is a true fact. I love this platform and I would love to recommend it to every youth out there.
As the amount of people and time spent on social media continues to grow, so does the importance of being present and relevant on these platforms. We meet our audiences where they already are, fitting in with their existing behaviour and lifestyles.
Social media gives us the opportunity to reach and engage people who may not be actively looking for information on HIV and sexual health but are in great need of the information and may not realise they are at risk.
It enables us to understand our audiences better and so provide each different audience group with more of the information they want in the way they need it.
Be in the KNOW
Creating communities for young people to learn and engage with their peers on sexual health
Catalysing conversations with young people on sex and relationships
Be in the know Zambia
Recruiting over 2,000 participants for a digital health intervention
Giving community health workers a space to support and learn from one another
We continually analyse the reach and engagement with our audiences on social media. In sub-Saharan Africa alone in 2021/22, we reached more than five million people through our Facebook and Instagram channels. There continued to be high engagement from the region, with over 700,000 post engagements generated by people reacting, commenting, sharing and clicking links in our posts.
We actively moderate all our social media channels to ensure our pages and campaigns remain safe spaces for the vital peer discussions and interactions that help support informed choices on sexual health.
As part of our Young Voices Africa project, we undertook ‘coding’ of thousands of comments from social media campaigns, which helped us to understand how young people were engaging, and further improve our communications work, as well as sharing our learning with others. From this we found 59% of people participating in online discussions showed deeper engagement with the issues covered in the animations, by, for example, expressing that they have gained knowledge; changing their perspective; or relating the issue back to their own experience.
Photo credit: Masimba Sasa. Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.