The social technographics of men who have sex with men: implications for HIV prevention research, education and outreach

Published: July 18, 2010

The social technographics of men who have sex with men: implications for HIV prevention research, education and outreach

D. Allman1, T. Myers1, K. Xu2, S.J. Taleski1

1University of Toronto, HIV Social, Behavioural and Epidemiological Studies Unit, Toronto, Canada, 2McMaster University, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, Hamilton, Canada

Background: Recent literature characterizes differential patterns of the use of social media as social technographics (Li and Bernoff, 2008). This paper applies this concept to HIV/AIDS work in Canada. It explores four diverse data sets in order to demonstrate how understanding patterns of social media use can inform this work.

Methods: Analyses were conducted on the (1) North American Technographics Benchmark Survey (2008), (2) Canadian Internet Use Survey (2007), (3) M-Track Ontario [Lambda] (2007) and (4) Ontario Men’s Survey (2002). SPSS was used to explore the associations of men’s age and urban/rural geographical context with social media use for sexual and non-sexual purposes.

Results: The concept of social technographics suggests new media users can be classified on multi-point hierarchies. Analysis of data sets 1 and 2 suggest that in Canada, the social technographics of MSM are structured primarily by age, with younger men more likely to be creators, innovators or active consumers of social content and older men more likely to be spectators or inactive consumers. Analyses of datasets 3 and 4 suggest evolving patterns in the use of social media to seek sexual partners. While trends associated with geography were clearer than those associated with age, trends associated with both age and geography were more evident in the 2007 than the 2002 dataset.

Conclusions: HIV/AIDS work for MSM can benefit from social technographic analysis. These results indicate that HIV research, prevention and education 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 utilizing more traditional forms of communication. These analyses suggest MSM’s patterns of social media use for social as well as sexual purposes will continue to evolve as different and more varied social media communication applications become available.

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