The social technographics of gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in Canada: Implications for HIV research, outreach and prevention

Published: April 15, 2012

Abstract

Current research characterises differential patterns of the use of social media as social technographics. Social technographics suggests new media users can be classified on multi-point hierarchies. This paper considers this concept within the context of HIV research, prevention and outreach in Canada. It explores four diverse data sets in order to demonstrate how understanding patterns of social media use can inform this work. Analyses were conducted on Forrester’s North American Technographics® Benchmark Survey (2008), the Canadian Internet Use Survey (2007), the M-Track Ontario [Lambda] Survey (2007) and the Ontario Men’s Survey (2002). Data analysis software was used to explore the associations of men’s age with social media use for sexual and non-sexual purposes. Analysis of these datasets suggests that in Canada, the age-related social technographics of gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are clearly structured. Younger men are more likely to use and spend time on the Internet, to chat, blog or instant message, and to seek sex. Interpreting these findings in relation to current literature describing the social web, the younger the age categories of men considered in these analyses, the more likely men in those age categories were to be creators, innovators or active consumers of social content. Conversely, the older the age categories of men, the more likely men in those age categories were to be spectators only or inactive consumers. We argue that HIV research, prevention and outreach that employ social media have a better likelihood of impact when targeted to younger men in Canada; whereas activities aimed at older men will have a greater likelihood of impact when utilising more traditional forms of communication. Our analyses highlight the ways that gay men and other MSM’s patterns of social media use for social and sexual purposes will continue to evolve as different and more varied social media communication applications become available. HIV research, prevention and outreach will need to continue to monitor these developments in order that they may shift accordingly.

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