Wednesday, July 22, 2015

6 Facebook and Twitter tips for your Mpowerment: The Q Austin

or "how The Q Austin added 324 Facebook fans and 73 Twitter followers in two months" by Taylor Stockett @cstockett05 Prevention Promotions Specialist at The Q Austin, Mpowerment Austin, Texas. The Q Austin is a Program of AIDS Services of Austin.

Building a social media presence for your Mpowerment (MP) takes time. Here are several strategies from the Q Austin. These strategies were instrumental to their success as they received awards for "Most New Fans on Facebook" (2015) and "Most New Followers on Twitter (2015)."


In order to truly connect with people online, prioritize your audience (or the audience you are looking to attract) by creating a publishing schedule that features subject matter relevant to their daily lives. Ask yourself, "What would an individual in my target audience appreciate?" For example, The Q Austin's publishing schedule is packed full of promotional messaging for events and HIV testing that are aligned with pop culture, current events, catchy phrasing, and internet memes. They seek out hashtags that are trending and may be relevant to their audience. 

Pro-Tip: Include your Core Group in the planning process; get their feedback and ensure relevancy!

RELATED: The Q Austin: Statesman Social Media Awards (2014) video

Steven, Justin, Marcus and Omar (Clockwise).  The Q Austin | Mpowerment Austin Texas


In addition to using a publishing schedule, carefully curate content. Before many people will grant your project a coveted "like" or "follow" they want to look over your recent posts and make sure your page is worth their on-going attention. Profiles need to be regularly updated (absolute minimum of 1x per week) and topical to the mission of your MP. When you re-share or re-tweet another source, make sure it is not old, out dated content.  The Q Austin has found it especially useful to schedule posts for late night, early morning, and over the weekend. The Q has found it easiest to schedule some posts like for HIV testing awareness and upcoming events for the month and then supplementing them with links to favorite blog articles or trending news. 

The Q-unicorn
Never be shy about asking for the "Like" or "Follow." Everyone you know can go to your MP  fan page on Facebook and invite their friends to like the page. Simply visit a fan page, click the symbol on the lower right of the page banner image, and then click "invite friends" to choose from your friend list whomever you want to send "Like" invites. This method is extremely effective if most of your friends support your project's mission and/or your personal endeavors. If you have already exhausted this option you can solicit a larger following by asking event attendees in person or on an event page for the Like/Follow. 

RELATED: 7 easy ways to increase 'likes' on your Mpowerment Project Fan Page
The Q recently hosted a movie night (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and played a QYoutube produced video prior to the movie, asking for attendees to Like and Follow their page for future event info.  They  then followed up on the event page the next day and reminded participants to do so again. Be sure to, place your Facebook and Twitter info on swag you give participants.  Also, just don’t give your swag away, ask for a follow or like to receive MP swag.


By far the quickest way to see traction is to pay these sites to bring you fans and subscribers. Facebook has made it easy to start a “Like” campaign from your fan page. A nice aspect of the paid ad is you can choose your own price point and start as small as $5 when boosting a post or starting a “Like” campaign. This method of growing your online reach is not organic, but extremely effective for gaining the attention of new people you might not otherwise reach in person. However, you must ensure to narrow the audience by location and interest for best campaign results. Earlier this summer, the Q was able to gain about 150 unique “Likes” via a recent paid Facebook campaign.

Home Sweet Home | The Q Austin


One of the more long term successes you can start working on is building up a group that will continue to engage with your content and share with their own audiences. By doing this, you are able to drastically impact more people than you would have on your own. For example, at The Q Austin there is a group of guys that have started to embrace drag and The Q was instrumental in encouraging them to build   Facebook and Twitter accounts. Now that they have learned how to use these profiles, while in character, they have started building their own audiences and regularly engage with The Q online, sharing   content and creating   buzz online about Q events, testing, and resources.   The Q also regularly engages with other community health partners via Facebook and Twitter and in return has received greater engagement on posts and campaigns.

@GrandmaSteve | @TheAnitaMoment | @jezebel_lee  via @q_austin


You will begin to see that managing your Mpowerment’s content strategy online requires some trial and error. The way to learn from what has and hasn’t worked with your particular audience is to track your reach, and track often. Facebook and Twitter both give you several tracking options. On Facebook it is called “Insights” and on Twitter “Twitter Analytics.” Explore both of these. At The Q, tracking is done daily. However, you may find that an Excel document, regularly updated, works better for you. Do what works for you. The important thing is that you begin tracking now.  Listen to your population. Discover what your audience is indicating should be planned, created, and curated content for your profiles. In the example below, The Q was able to identify that it’s audience is interested in content regarding LGBT history. Because of this, The Q is now planning a series of Gay History events.

Give yourself time to plan, create, and track your publishing schedule, and don’t be shy about asking for audience engagement to build your online community  . If you have a few extra dollars in your budget explore a $5-$20 “Like” or “Follow” campaign and see if that brings you any valuable engagement. Don’t be afraid of failure or low engagement, but learn from it! Success online happens with practice. This list of tips is in no way exhaustive and you can easily do more search engine research. 

Now that we've showed you what we've got - share whatever best practices or strategies have worked for your Mpowerment in the comments below.  I'd love to hear your ideas. - Taylor

Be sure to follow the adventures of The Q Austin on Facebook,  Twitter and YouTube.

The Mpowerment Project is a Project of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at the University California San Francisco (UCSF). 

We are here for you:  Contact us.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tips on Social Media Advertising: Mpowerment Project publicity best practices.

by Jonathan Joyner, former Lead Coordinator of the FUSE, Mpowerment Dallas TX.

The FUSE is a Project of Resource Center.

Media buying is simply the process of buying advertising. A smart media buy is one where you truly reach your audience.

Facebook ads are a powerful tool with the potential to inform young men about your Mpowerment Project. When a person sets up a Facebook profile, they are asked to provide a lot of information: name, birthday, gender, relationship status, high school, college and where they work. Users are also encouraged to list items of interest; books, television programs, movies, music, fashion brands, restaurants. Facebook knows way way WAY more about you than Google does and Google, who only knows your location and search history, was already light years ahead of a newspaper, TV, radio ad, or billboard. 

Follow the adventures of FUSE on Facebook| Mpowerment Dallas TX

Why does this matter? As an advertiser (I know that word has a dirty connotation, but think of yourself more as Jon Hamm from Mad Men or Neil Patrick Harris from the Smurfs movie than Don Cheadle from House of Lies)  you can take advantage of all this data. It allows you to directly target  potential participants. Thanks to Facebook Ads, it’s much easier to segment and reach your core audience.

RELATED: 7 easy ways to increase 'likes' on your Mpowerment Project Fan Page
Let's pretend that you're part of a community building and HIV prevention program targeting gay and bi men of color in 'Fabulous City' USAYou can customize your ad so that it only appears to people’s who demographic information says that they identify as male, currently between the ages of 18 to 29, live within your city or within a 20 mile radius, are interested in men, and are Black, Latino, or Asian. Simple, no?

FUSE | Mpowerment Dallas TX

That said, you can do even better. With the exception of your M-group, not every event is intended to be of interest to every participant. You want to run a variety of ads for the same reason your project hosts a variety of events: you want to appeal to different types of guys. Twinks, theater queens, bears, butch, gamers; gay men come in as many flavors as there are fruits in tutti-frutti ice cream. If you have an established group of volunteers, use them to create the look for each ad. Ask individuals their interest and create different ads based on their responses. Going niche is a double edge sword, you can really send out messages that resonate with your target and will elicit a click, but if you go too specific, then you risk going after a very small pool of people.

When creating your ads, the number of your possible audience will be shown . During your campaign, your ad response rate will let you know if you’re hitting your target or if things need to be adjusted. 

Evaluate as you go and don’t be afraid to start over. 

What about men who don’t choose to identify as gay? Can you still reach them? Yup! How you say? Remember when Facebook asked them to list their interests?  You’d be surprised at the number of men who don’t choose to identify as gay, but will like fan pages such as Hornet, Falcon Entertainment (NSFW) Andrew Christian (NSFW), Flesh jack (NSFW) and Brent Everett (NSFW) --just to name a few. 

Target your ads to include friends of current fans. Nothing is a better endorsement for a fan page than seeing your Facebook friends already like it. Just like compounding interest, once you’ve established your base (maybe your first 1,000 fans), Fan page likes begin to snowball. Nobody wants to feel left out. As Fuse’s Facebook numbers show, the bandwagon effect is a powerful thing.

FUSE | Mpowerment Dallas TX
While it can be tempting to just buy Facebook fans rather than put the effort in, don’t. Just don’t.  Why?

1) it’s dishonest and
2) think about it.

You have 100 new “fans," but your posts aren't actually going out to 100 new people. Your message isn’t even falling on deaf ears because the ears never existed to begin with. Everybody wants to be popular, but it’s much more rewarding when you earn those fans. Plus, you won’t be sweating bullets should the social network purge the SPAM accounts and your fan number drastically falls.

FUSE | Mpowerment Dallas TX
Now, here is where we take it to the next level. Customize your media buy to run when you know you’re target market is going to be online. You’ll save money and get a better response rate. Facebook likes it when you just click the default runtime because it’s money in their pocket. But is your demographic really up at 4AM on a Tuesday? If not, then why are you paying to advertise then?

I also recommend periodically taking a pause in your advertising and changing up your ads. After weeks and weeks of seeing the same ad, if your desired audience hasn’t clicked, then they’ve seen it, it didn’t appeal to them, and they’ve built up a resistance and are filtering the ad out like background noise. New imagery and/or wording and/or a break from your ad can be the difference that makes them click.

I’m not calling for the death of print media in favor of purely digital advertising (diversity in a publicity campaign is important). Sometimes a condom packet insert, social-media business card, or  an event invitation  is called for, especially when conducting Venue Based Outreach.

Using Facebook ads can help you improve your project’s visibility to prospective new members… and maybe get your MP some snazzy Mpowerment Awards and bragging rights. Happy media buying.

Follow the adventures of FUSE, Mpowerment Dallas Texas on Facebook and on Twitter

Follow the adventures of these Mpowerment Projects

The Mpowerment Project is a Project of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at the University California San Francisco (UCSF). 

We are here for you:  Contact us.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Mpowerment Project’s Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles from theories of behavior change and from interviews with young bisexual/gay men and service providers serve as the foundation for the Mpowerment Project.

The Guiding Principles are key to the Mpowerment Project model, and guide all aspects of its implementation. They also help Projects adapt the Project in order to respond to unique aspects of their target population and to differing levels of funding for the program. 

The Guiding Principles are key to the Mpowerment Project model, and guide all aspects of its implementation. They also help Projects adapt the Project in order to respond to unique aspects of their target population and to differing levels of funding for the program.

RELATED:  What is the Mpowerment Project? Download Module 1: Mpowerment Overview.

United Black Ellumetn (U-BE), Mpowerment Dallas TX

Young men are very concerned with social and self-esteem issues

HIV prevention is not in itself particularly motivating or captivating for adult young gay/bisexual men. Agencies that try to reach young gay and bisexual men often report that it is very difficult to attract the men to their activities. HIV prevention efforts at an agency cannot be effectively implemented if young men won’t attend. For example, it can be difficult to implement multi-session groups on HIV prevention. Most young men do not seek out help to change their sexual behaviors that put them at risk for HIV. It is important to recognize that HIV/AIDS is only one threat among many that young gay/bisexual men confront in a homophobic society where gay-bashing, discrimination, and battles over gay rights are commonplace. Young gay/bisexual men may be dealing simultaneously with issues of self-esteem, alienation, isolation, cultural/ social identity, racism (in the gay community and in society in general), family problems, and financial, education, and employment pressures.

Therefore, the first Guiding Principle is that a successful HIV prevention intervention for young gay/bisexual men needs to tie HIV risk-reduction to the satisfaction of other needs, such as developing friendships, having fun, and enhancing self-esteem. Through focus groups, it became clear that social concerns—such as how to meet and have fun with other young gay/bisexual men—are highly motivating. Thus, a social focus became the central theme of the Project. Using appealing, fun, engaging social activities and incorporating HIV prevention into them is a way of ensuring that men will attend and hear about sexual risk reduction and the importance of HIV testing.

The GMHC Crew, Mpowerment Fairfax VA

Peer influences are strong among young gay/bisexual Men

The second key issue guiding the development of the Mpowerment Project (MP) is the recognition that peer influence plays a major role in the lives of young gay/ bisexual men. Numerous studies have shown that—regarding almost any type of behavior, whether it is smoking, drugs, fashion, political attitudes, or others— one’s peers are the most credible sources of information, and peer pressure is one of the most highly effective forms of influence. Therefore, the second Guiding Principle is that for the Mpowerment Project to be effective in reaching young gay/bisexual men, it needs to be peer-based and use peer influence.

Mpowerment Training, Newark NJ

Building healthy community among young gay/bisexual men

Many young gay and bisexual men are frustrated with their local gay communities because there are few places to go to meet other young men and where they can safely be themselves. Young men often only have a few other gay male friends, and therefore they can feel lonely and isolated much of the time. Men under drinking age can typically only find each other online or at a few cruising places, and men at or over drinking age can also find each other at gay bars—but these are not health promoting environments.

Young men want to be with each other in a relaxed, comfortable environment where they can be themselves. The MP creates settings where young men can express their identities with each other, find support, and most importantly, band together to take action on issues of importance to them. They can feel a part of something bigger than themselves: a young gay/bisexual men’s community. Being a part of a young men’s community where men support each other regarding safer sex and getting tested means that each young man in the community experiences support from many others about HIV prevention.

Therefore, the third Guiding Principle is that it is essential to build a young gay/bisexual men’s community where men support each other about sexual risk reduction and obtaining HIV testing, where the social norms and expectations support HIV prevention, and where men help each other in coping with the stresses of being gay/bisexual.

RELATED: Mpowerment Core Elements and Key Characteristics.

Mpowerment Training, Columbus Ohio

Empowerment promotes more lasting changes in behavior

The fourth Guiding Principle is that the Project serves a mobilizing and empowering function within the young gay/bisexual men’s community—young men take ownership of the Project rather than having the Project carried out for them. 

From research in other areas of behavior change, it is clear that when individuals are actively involved in finding and implementing solutions to their problems, any changes they make in their behavior are more likely to last. Thus, providing young gay and bisexual men with a mechanism for analyzing issues and problems that they experience and coming up with solutions for these problems, and for designing and running the intervention activities themselves, foster a sense of ownership of the program and a sense of personal commitment to HIV prevention.

The Project focuses on personal empowerment. It helps young men analyze why they are at risk for HIV and why they do not get tested for HIV as frequently as they should. It also helps them consider what actions they can take to be healthier and withstand pressures that cause them to be at risk. In addition, the Project focuses on community empowerment: developing a community of young men that can address some of the stresses and strains that affect them.

Q Flames soccer outreach via The Q Austin, Mpowerment TX

Community-wide change occurs through interpersonal networks

The program’s design draws from the theory of diffusion of innovations, which states that members of a social system are most likely to adopt new behavioral practices (i.e., safer sex, regular HIV testing) when they see their peers adopting the behavior and communicating that they feel it is desirable and important. Therefore, the fifth Guiding Principle is that community change comes about through a process of informal communication and modeling by peers within their friendship networks.

Increased networks are developed through the community- building activities of the Project, but men also take the messages about safer sex and testing to men who may never attend any of the Project’s activities. The Mpowerment Project facilitates a process for young gay/bisexual men to actively communicate with each other about safer sex and testing, and to encourage each other to practice these two things through these social networks. The goal is for safer sex and regular HIV testing to become the mutually accepted norm within the young gay/bisexual men’s community.

Stuffing condom packets via Mpowerment Long Island, NY

Fostering pride: gay-positive, ethnic/ racial-positive, and sex-positive messages encourage behavior change

The sixth Guiding Principle of the Mpowerment Project is that the program enriches and strengthens young gay/bisexual men’s pride about who they are, and encourages them to explore and celebrate their sexuality by not just focusing on condom use but by including a wide variety of safer sex behaviors.

Materials produced by the Project show positive images of young gay/bisexual men that reflect the diversity of the community. This Guiding Principle—about young gay/bisexual men taking pride in who they are—encompasses pride in one’s ethnic/racial identity as well, particularly if they are young men of color. All activities designed to promote safer sex are fun, uplifting, and sex-positive; fear and shame-inducing approaches are avoided.

The Evolution Project, Mpowerment Atlanta GA

A “multi-level” HIV prevention program is needed to address a variety of issues and factors that contribute to sexual risk taking and reluctance to get regular HIV testing among young gay/bisexual men

Self-esteem, interpersonal and cultural issues, internalized homophobia, community norms, and many other factors all influence young men’s risk behavior. Since young gay/bisexual men engage in unsafe sex for a variety of reasons, interventions that focus solely on one level of factors will miss men who engage in unsafe sex for other reasons. Not only should the Mpowerment Project focus on encouraging men to reduce their sexual risk behavior, it should also encourage men to get tested for HIV regularly. Therefore, the seventh and final Guiding Principle is the need for a “multi- level” approach.

What prevents young men from engaging in HIV care?

The various components of the Mpowerment Project try to address the variety of contributors to risk behavior and reluctance to test regularly. For example, Social Outreach Events and safer-sex Outreach Team performances and outreach materials change over the course of the intervention so that a wide variety of issues can be targeted. 

During our research on the Translating Research into Practice (TRIP-1) Project, we observed that while the success of the Project was dependent to a significant degree on the effectiveness of staff, the Implementing Agency and the Project Funder also made major contributions to how well each Project operated.

Read more in Module 1: Overview. A free download when you register at 

The Mpowerment Project is a Center for Disease Control (CDC) effective HIV intervention.

Join us. Attend the Mpowerment Project training. 

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Contact us: University California of San Francisco (UCSF) - Capacity Building Assistance Partnership