Social media data can inform our communication activities. We spoke with Lee Rainie, director of the internet and technology research at the Pew Research Center, and Stacey Palosky, Acting Deputy Director, Digital, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to discuss Pew’s recent report on social media use in America. You can watch the Facebook Live video to hear the full discussion. We’ve also included our main takeaways below.
What Our Panelists Had to Say
- Rainie talked about one of Pew’s key takeaways from the data they collected: “Social media is an every day thing. And one of the grand stories we tell with our data is that the special sauce of social media is that people are talking to each other…it gives people their own capacity to be a broadcaster, a publisher, and tell their own story.”
- Palosky said that having accurate data means you can refine your communications for maximum impact on your target audiences and measure that impact so that you know what you’re doing is effective. “The key is to have a ‘digital first’ model so that we design our products to reach audiences where they get their information.”
What We Learned from The Discussion
There are differences in how our HIV target audiences are using social media, and we must understand those differences across populations and social media platforms.
Younger Americans are using a variety of social media channels, which means it’s vital to know where your audience is if you want to reach them effectively. Pew data showed :
- Facebook and YouTube dominate the social media landscape, as significant majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites.
- At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently.
- Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day.
- Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram, and close to half (45%) are Twitter users.
Mobile phones continue to be a critical tool for reaching Americans, especially those who do not have another way to access online information. Pew data showed :
- The vast majority of Americans (95%) now own a cellphone of some kind.
- As the adoption of traditional broadband service has slowed in recent years, a growing share of Americans now use smartphones as their primary means of online access at home.
- Today just over one-in-ten American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service.
- Reliance on smartphones for online access is especially common among younger adults, non-whites, and lower-income Americans.
These data are especially important for HIV communicators working to address key populations. Learn more about how HIV.gov serves those populations through the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund (SMAIF).