“Social Media for Social Good” is a topic we have covered a great deal in our classes specifically looking out how we, as communicators, can leverage this in our own work moving forward. In the United States we have seen how social media can impact a Presidential campaign, raise awareness, provide real-time information and breakdown barriers of communication.
This week, we were given the assignment of researching Russia and its use of social media. In doing my research it was fascinating to find out some interesting statistics about the country. I should preface this by saying, that at first they may not seem related, but be patient, I’ll get there.
In terms of social media, Russia has the fastest growing internet population in Europe behind France and Spain. Social networking has exploded onto the scene and the two most popular networks currently in Russia are Vkontakte.ru. and Odnoklassniki.ru,. SO suffice to say, there is great potential with the growing internet population and the power of a two-way conversations.
Then in my research, I came across an alarming story and statistic about the growing AIDS epidemic in Russia. The number of people in Russia living with HIV has more than doubled since 2001. This caught me off guard because typically when you are talking about AIDS – the discussion goes to Africa. Quite honestly, it made me begin to wonder why Russia wasn’t spreading a more effective AIDS awareness message in the country and abroad.
That is when I turned my attention to what organizations were doing on the ground to spread the message of AIDS awareness and protection. The most promising organization I found was a STOP AIDS webpage found here and partnered by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In 2005 the country started what a campaign to educate its population of the AIDS epidemic through the use of television and radio programming and print editorial content, consumer products placement, an extensive interactive internet campaign and free print and online information resources.
So the question I bring to the table is: How can organizations on the ground in Russia leverage the power of social media to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and education? At the very least bring more people to the site mentioned above. The materials that are currently used to spread awareness are largely one dimensional communications tools where the organization is talking at the target audience as apposed to talking with.
I don’t think that I can even begin to scratch the surface in a blog post but I believe that Russia has yet to tap into power behind joining the conversation and bringing about social impact through the implementation social media.