Feel the Thunder! How Federal Agencies use Thunderclaps for Awareness Days

Content From: HIV.govPublished: April 17, 20184 min read



The HIV.gov team gets lots of questions about effective social media use. A frequent question from our federal and community partners is “What’s the best digital tool to use at [fill in the blank] HIV/AIDS observance day?”

In light of this question, we recently talked with colleagues at the CDC and the HHS Office on Women’s Health about their experience in planning and promoting Thunderclaps, for National HIV Testing Day (NTHD - June 27, 2017) and National Women and Girls Day (NWGHAAD - March 10, 2018), respectively. (Quick background: a ThunderclapExit Disclaimer is “a crowdspeaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. It allows a single message to be mass-shared, flash mob-style, so it rises above the noise of your social networks.”)

Why did you choose to organize a Thunderclap for the observance?

Adrianne Phenix, Public Health Analyst, HHS Office on Women's Health, was part of the team that organized the 2018 NWGHAAD Thunderclap “HIV Prevention Starts with Me”Exit Disclaimer campaign. Adrianne said “In addition to highlighting the impact of HIV and AIDS on U.S. women and girls, one of the goals of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is to bring awareness to the observance. Thunderclap campaigns have been an easy and inexpensive way to help us expand the reach of our messages quickly.”

Karen Resha (Chief, Communication Operations, Health Communication Science Office, Office of the Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC, told us about the #HIVTestingDay ThunderclapExit Disclaimer (2017): “Thunderclaps are a great way to promote a single message across government and non-government organization, state, local, and community, and individual twitter handles. For NHTD it provided an opportunity to get out the message to Get Tested.”

How do these Thunderclaps fit into the overall communication plan for the observance?

Adrianne: Our plan was to leverage our social platforms and our supporters’ social networks to amplify NWGHAAD and our theme. Thunderclap campaigns were designed to do exactly that, so the campaign was a perfect fit for our NWGHAAD social media strategy.

Karen: CDC utilizes a number of tactics to fulfill the goals for Testing Day. Thunderclap is one of the most readily available tools to make the main message of an event actionable by sharing with millions of people all at the same time. In addition to tweets, blogs, news updates, letters, and other tactics, a Thunderclap is not passive communication – by posting and promoting a Thunderclap to support a cause you are asking for action – to participate and to spread a specific message. Thunderclaps provide a unified, strong, and loud voice to encourage Testing for HIV.

What tips can you share for getting a Thunderclap promoted and increasing participation and amplification?

Adrianne: Start promoting your Thunderclap campaign early. Allow time for supporters to sign up and share the link with their networks.

Karen: Start planning early. Go live with the Thunderclap as soon as possible, and promote often and broadly.

What are your definitions of success of your Thunderclaps?

Adrianne: We defined success as meeting our supporter goal, and we were successful. We also look at our campaign’s social reach, which is a metric that Thunderclap provides at the end of the campaign.

Karen: We exceeded the needed 100 participants by 133, for a total of 233 participants in the Thunderclap. The potential reach was more than 3 million across 3 countries and 127 U.S. cities.

HIV.gov: Here is an upcoming Thunderclap that you can eye - and join. The CDC “Treat Me Right” ThunderclapExit Disclaimer for STD Awareness Month goes live on April 18.

As you think about how Thunderclaps and other digital tools and communication intersect with your communication plans for upcoming national HIV/AIDS awareness days, we’ve got resources to inform your efforts. From our awareness day pages, to our digital tools resource section to our social media blogs, to free personalized help from our Virtual Office Hours team, HIV.gov is ready to support your work.