Merck  : Spoon-feeding reporters

Selective promotion pushes take up of a valued news source.

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The feature

Merck, US-based pharmaceuticals company, selectively promotes links to its Twitter page.

Merck’s Newsroom landing page features a Follow Us panel headed by promotion of its official Twitter feed. The plug has two elements: the Twitter ‘blue bird’ graphic and text of the most recent post. Each is linked independently, respectively to the official Merck Twitter page and the highlighted item in the post (which may be a news release or a non-Merck source).

The Follow Us panel is also included in two of the nine Newsroom sub-sections (Media Contacts and Multimedia), while the Social Media sub-section has a scrollable Tweets stream and Follow button. A graphic link to the Twitter page is also included in a universal set of social channel links at bottom right of site pages.

The takeaway

Twitter has established itself firmly as a tool of their trade for journalists, with 59 per cent worldwide now using it, according to the latest annual Oriella Digital Journalism Study, and 51 per cent turning to it and other ‘microblogs’ as a source of news stories – a figure that drops to 25 per cent if the source behind the story is not known to the journalist. Armed with such information, it clearly makes sense to do as Merck and selectively promote signing up to the company Twitter feed in that section of the corporate site set out as a resource for the media.

Merck makes a sensible distinction between promoting sign-up and providing a Tweet ‘ticker’, which gives a handy and logically located on-site window onto the Twitter stream. There is room for improvement, however. The effectiveness of the promotional panel is open by its structure to dilution – the dual linkage is not intuitive and can take users away from the Twitter page and ‘follow’ buttons.
First published 20 February, 2014
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