The CDC Knows Social Media
The CDC knows Social Media
The CDC has been using social media effectively for some time now. The organization uses it to disseminate important and timely information as well as to keep American citizens actively involved and engaged in the nation’s health topics. The strategy is effective due to the CDC’s templated, surround-sound creative approach. Marketers can draw lessons from this on how to use social media.
Sara Weiner, Associate Director
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began using social media over a year ago and is continually increasing its presence and efforts. It manages Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, Flickr accounts and more, presenting consumers with information on health topics ranging from H1N1 and teen pregnancy to the CDC’s famous Zombie Apocalypse preparedness guide.1
The organization’s efforts have yielded impressive results: over 1.2 million Twitter follows on the @CDCemergency emergency response feed, 150K fans on Facebook, and 2.8 million 2
people per month visiting the CDC website. The CDC’s social media efforts are effective for three reasons. 1) The CDC is organized—it has different feeds and profiles for different topics, manages efforts in a surround-sound approach across platforms, and utilizes the platform most relevant to the topic at hand. 2) The efforts are efficient and templated—when the CDC issues information about a new topic, it creates a “Tool Kit” of social media icons, portable assets, widgets and buttons. These items are accessible and usable by anyone wishing to spread the word about a health issue. 3) They are creative—their recent Zombie Apocalypse campaign took a serious topic, emergency preparedness, and spun it in a way that got attention and promoted the key message of “Get a kit, make a plan, be prepared,” which referred to all emergency situations, not just zombie attacks.Implications and Action Items
The CDC’s approach is applicable to other brands wishing to engage in social media. While Zombie Apocalypses might not be on-message for every brand, brands can draw key lessons from the CDC as follows:
Download Perspectives, August 2011
- Make it easy for the consumer. Allow consumers to take the action they want, but facilitate the process through readily available and transportable formats. The CDC’s Tool Kits provide consumers with easily accessible and usable content that they can distribute.
- Let the consumer pick a platform. Keep in mind that many consumers separate their public from private social networks (for example, Facebook for friends and family, Twitter for business), so providing consumers with options for following and engaging will give your social media efforts more legs.
- Be everywhere. The CDC’s surround-sound approach maintains a constant voice across the Web, increases brand awareness and lets consumers engage as they prefer, and allows them to match the message to the best platform.
- Be creative. Social media and viral topics tend to lean toward the unusual or interesting. Putting a different spin on the everyday topic can give to limited brand messages a variety of new content areas with which consumers can interact and engage.
(pdf, 1.3 Mb)1 Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse http://tiny.cc/zjmbl (accessed 8/3/11)
2 Quantcast.com profile of www.cdc.gov