When it comes to increasing news release reach and actions, one of the easiest ways for companies to increase results is through leveraging the reach of their owned social channels.

Social media provides a unique opportunity for organizations. Unlike traditional advertising – which guarantees views – social visibility success is a mix of timing, text and image choice, and placements. When the content is right, messages shared in social channels give users the chance to feel the joy of discovery, the pride of comprehension, and the desire to share. These feelings-fueled activities result in trusted shares, allowing brand fans to take ownership of the social messaging and introduce the brand to their own followers. And, as Nielsen noted in their 2019 consumer report, consumers will buy what they trust and believe in.

With social following and shares based heavily on trust, social channels provide a strong opportunity for brands to shorten the sales funnel with smart channel choices and appropriate messaging. To maximize social impact, news must be shared through the right channels.

However, social media is an ever-changing landscape. Where is social headed in 2020? For this, we turn to Trust Insight’s Social Networks 2020 guide.

What happened in 2019

To be clear, social channels are not going away any time soon. However, where people spend time on social networks is changing. Consumers are shifting their time away from public social channels, choosing to share their time and knowledge in highly specific private communities.

  • Who is growing: YouTube, Discord, Twitch, Slack, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok
  • Who is shrinking: Viber, Snapchat, QQ, Facebook and Medium
  • Who is losing followers (retention): Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok

Take a closer look at channels that, while growing, are also losing followers: consumers like to test channels, joining when they are hot, and then leaving when the platform doesn’t resonate with their personal needs.

What is behind this shift?

Social networks are aspiration-based. Participation is often emotional because it is tied to an aspiration such as personal passion or desire to be an expert. These emotion-based aspirations drive log-ins, shares, and participation. But recently, these channels have been stoking negative emotions.

People are tired of fighting. For many users, social discourse on public channels has become an unwanted challenge – rather than defend their position, people are simply participating less. In addition, discovery of useful information can be difficult as channels rely on advertising-based algorithms to surface content.

Where are people going?

Two distinct platform types are showcasing growth for 2020: visual networks like YouTube, and participation networks such as Twitch, Slack and Discord.

Show and Tell with Video

YouTube’s continual growth and expansion should come as no surprise. In a world where visual fluency is skyrocketing and verbal fluency is dropping, video-based communications is a natural draw.

For many PR pros, YouTube is not their first channel for news distribution. For 2020, consider creating video counterparts of your news releases and blog posts. New DIY tools like Lumen5 turn press releases and other textual documents into videos in a matter of minutes. PR pros must move past text-only content to meet the needs of tomorrow’s visual audiences. For those with larger budgets, consider identifying YouTube influencers in your space who will share your news with their audiences for a fee.

Thrill with Public Participation Networks

2020 will mark the continued rise of public participation networks such as Twitch. Twitch provides millions of people the opportunity to tune in and watch third parties play games. These gameplays have all the hallmarks of a great action movie – dialogue, drama and, of course, a winner and loser.

For PR pros, the takeaway here is visual storytelling. Customers will spend time watching a story unfold – especially if they can participate. For your next series of news releases, consider creating interactive story arcs that turn news releases into gamified content pieces, educating while entertaining. Organizations like P&G, Alcon, Garmin and more are using interactive news releases today, educating through actions and shortening customer journeys all at the same time.

Provide Comfort in Private Participation Groups

For private participation groups, Discord and Slack channel growth showcases just how desperately people want to connect and share with likeminded individuals. Whether it is about the best places to find Pokémons in a new city or best practices on data usage, private groups provide all the traditional hallmarks of social, but within the safety of a smaller setting.

To maximize private shares, PR pros can do several things. First, join private groups related to your industry. This is a terrific way to build awareness of your organization, showcase expertise, and learn from the community powering your brand. Another tactic is to identify and hire influencers who run private thought leader groups.

The downside of working within private spaces is that it cannot currently be easily measured in Google Analytics. Utilize data trackers to measure shared content and consider, as the authors of this report did, using AHREFS SEO Tool for backlinks. You may be surprised to see how many private discussions are generating traffic to your news and website.

Gain Traction with your News

We asked report author, Christopher Penn, for his thoughts on how PR pros should be leveraging social for news amplification.

“When it comes to news releases, as we've seen in our own analysis of all the different ways to publish a release, if you want any kind of traction at all, you have to publish with a reputable wire service,” says Penn. “Many of the cheap/free services provide no impact whatsoever.”

Private communities offer distinction and coveted experiences.

“When we look at distribution of news, social media is functionally an advertising channel now. We see audiences tiring of the cesspools that are public social media feeds and flocking towards private communities and more varied media experiences,” explains Penn. “For example, people behave differently on Instagram versus YouTube; when someone goes to YouTube, it is expressly for the purpose of watching video.”

Audience expectations with social reveal how they will interact with and consume the content.

“Think about your goals of releasing news – it's to be consumed by your audience,” Penn notes. “Instead of platforms that focus heavily on fast swiping through a feed, post your content in places where you know the audience (should they be interested in your content) will actually sit down and watch it. It's no surprise that YouTube measures video in 30-second view windows, while regular social networks have had to gimmick their numbers with 3-second views – it's because users don't go to social networks to sit down and watch.”

Consider Channels Carefully

Penn concludes, and we agree, “At the end of the day, think carefully about who your audience is and where they go to engage in deep dives in content, then align that with your news release strategy.”

Download the Trust Insights report here.

Looking for more ways to activate users? Download our Guide to Modern Storytelling.


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