Informational and educational posters and leaflets are useful in clinics, and may also be disseminated to target populations at the hotspots they frequent. For outreach initiatives, leaflets are an effective leave-behind material, providing individuals with information to reference later. Some campaigns have found success in thinking creatively about their printed materials, producing stickers, bookmarks, playing cards, or other entertaining products that carry key messages.1
Mass media outlets are also possible channels for communication, although they should be considered carefully. Billboards can be useful, along with bus and taxi advertisements. While this needs to be locally assessed (and different sizes and advertising rates are possible), print advertisements in newspapers may be less useful in reaching smaller target populations. If the audience is broader, it is still important to assess whether newspaper advertising is worth the investment for your specific campaign goals. For example, three million Kenyans still read a newspaper every day, but printed newspaper circulations in the country are falling or stagnant. Across sub-Saharan Africa, many newspapers are also increasing their online presence, suggesting online content may be a more valuable investment.2
Pusha Love Billboards
As part of the “Pusha Love” campaign (discussed below, under “Social”), these billboards in Lesotho used resonant taglines like, “I’m taking control of my life” to promote healthier social norms. Check out the full story, including the creative brief for the project here.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, mobile access is increasing—offering new opportunities for individual engagement through SMS technology and messaging programs (like WhatsApp, Mxit, or WeChat).3 Individual, group, and automated messages can be deployed at various levels of intervention. For example, mobile messages can be used to share clinic information, to send referrals, and to remind clients about appointments or to take medication. Mobile messages can also be used to share one-on-one information, to offer advice, or to host group discussions. Finally, it can be a way to deliver engaging and informational content such as podcasts, video clips, and web-based content.
Engaging marginalized communities online is increasingly possible in certain contexts; local investigation should guide investments in this technology. For example, mobile tools may be useful in Kenya, where 78 percent of people own a mobile phone4; further, 21 percent of mobile phone owners said they share their phone with someone else5, which increases access (while also raising questions about confidentiality). Texting is the most common use, with Whatsapp boasting the highest number of monthly users (12 million).6 Additionally, ownership of smartphones is on the rise in Kenya, with the highest rates among younger, educated, and English-speaking individuals; overall, 43 percent of the total population own a smartphone.7
The growth of mobile technology and smartphone coverage is also increasing the reach and potential for campaigns that use social media and online/digital content. See the “Social” and “Online/Digital” outlet connections for more.
Student Flash Mob in Botswana
Flash mobs are often organized via social media or mobile coordination. For this mob, organized at the entrance to an education fair, students performed a massive, choreographed dance to raise HIV awareness amongst their peers. Watch the dance here.
Along with the rise of mobile, smartphones, and connectivity, social media is increasingly accessible. Social media can be a powerful vehicle for broadcasting information and advice, as well as building and cultivating community, by identifying and engaging at-risk individuals who may be afraid to participate in physical spaces; online campaigns can create a “safe space” for learning and in certain circumstance, anonymous discussion.
In Kenya, seven million people use Facebook.8
In Lesotho, about 13 percent of Basotho are active social media users; Facebook is the most popular platform.9
Across sub-Saharan Africa, the most-used social media platform are Facebook10, and community-based organizations do host pages/groups on this platform to engage audiences. However, these organizations also report that maintaining a number of groups on Facebook can require a steep time and resource investment; there is a high level of initial effort required to “seed” discussions, which then require effort to read, post, respond to comments, and generally build a social community. Another potential tactic is to use paid Facebook ads, which can be effective in reaching specific, targeted audiences (such as people who have liked a particular page).11
Other potential platforms include Twitter, WhatsApp, and dating sites. Whatsapp can also be used for education, and to provide a low cost means of one-on-one counselling with providers.12 In terms of advertising, Facebook enables the use of data to target specific demographic groups.13
Deciding to engage through social media should be driven by local investigation and research. For example, one local project in Kenya found the most at-risk youth were not on social media.14
Given the exploding growth of mobile and internet connectivity, creating content and/or sites for web-based devices may be an increasingly effective way to spread information and messages. Access varies by demographic and country, so local investigation should guide investments. For example, in 2016 in Lesotho, there were more than 400,000 internet users (approximately 18% of the population).15
However internet access is limited by the lack of infrastructure as well as economic constraints.16 In 2015 in Kenya, there were 23 million internet users (approximately 55 percent of the population); 90 percent of people access the internet from their mobile phones.17
When creating messages for online dissemination, it is important to keep in mind the low-strength internet connectivity that many mobile phone users experience. As an example of how to accommodate this, one community organization that works with MSM deliberately designed an informational site in low resolution so as to be accessible from mobile phones.18 It’s also important to translate content into local languages.19
“If You Know You Are a Champion” Song
A collaboration between three music superstars in diverse styles (to attract a wide audience), this popular, energetic song promotes male circumcision, encouraging men with lyrics like “there is no need to fear” and spreading widely through online channels. Learn more here.
HIV Web Series Gets Nominated for an Emmy!
In order to get HIV prevention back on young peoples’ radar in Brazil, UNAIDS teamed up with Globo’s social responsibility branch to create a web series with two of the most loved characters of the teen soap opera Malhação, the serodiscordant couple. In the spin-off web series the couple appears alongside real serodiscordant couples to talk about their relationships, sexuality and the impact of HIV in their daily lives. The five-episode web series soon became a hit—from April to June 2016, it was the third most watched original series on the platform, with almost 1 million views. And on 16 October 2017, it was nominated for the Emmy Kids 2017 in the digital category.