Tips on When to Use Social Media to Make Announcements

Posted: July 20, 2013 in Digital Communications Campaigns, Social Media, Strategy
Tags: , , , ,

As PR professionals, we have a menu of tools and tactics at our disposal. More and more I’m noticing that brands (and I use this term broadly to apply to people and organizations) are using social media to make significant announcements. One of the most talked about is Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign launch on YouTube which I’ve included below. It got me thinking, why would a brand choose this as a strategy?

Here’s my list of reasons:

  • You want control of your message. Making an announcement on Twitter means that your message goes from you directly to your audience. In the traditional model where you issue a news release to the media, the media then write an article (if you’re lucky), but they do so with a filter. It’s their job to provide balance and perspective on your announcement.
  • You add value to your social media fans. You’ve connected with them personally and given them something special. That goes a long way in building an engaged community online.
  • You encourage your fans (and ambassadors of your brands) to champion your message. “Share this important announcement!” tweeted Acme Widget Co. You’ve leveraged your existing networks to amplify your message.
  • Almost everything on social media is easily tracked and messages can link back to your website for a more thorough description of your announcement. Depending on your objectives this could be an important consideration.
  • You could build anticipation in the lead up to the announcement. If you’re strategic you could also use it as a campaign to build fans. “Like our page on Facebook and be the first to hear our exciting announcement!” This could work as a paid post.
  • It may not be a media story to begin with but more of an exercise in stakeholder communications. In any case, the tactic has to fit the intended audience. Ditch the news release and get tweeting.
  • It’s free (always a good price!), fast and easy. I suspect these are rarely considerations for large organizations, but it could potentially weigh heavily on a small organization with limited resources.
  • All the cool kids are doing it. By releasing information you are positioned as a brand that’s socially connected. That’s SO 2013!

And remember, if you’re a publicly traded company you have certain obligations about how you release information. Mashable has a good summary of a recent case from the U.S. involving these issues.

I’m interested in what you think. Have you used social media to make an announcement? How did you make the decision and why?

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