Multi-Platform Customer Engagement, the CNN Way

Kelsey Cottingham By Kelsey Cottingham Apr 4, 2017

If you’re a marketer, you’ve probably heard this about 1,000 times: we’re in the age of the second screen. Between mobile phones, tablets, wearable tech, desktops/laptops, and televisions, it’s rare that a person isn’t using or near at least two of these screens. With your customers’ attention so fragmented between different devices, it’s crucial to meet them where they are. That means ensuring that you have the ability to speak to them on the various digital platforms where they choose to engage with your brand.

What does that look like? To give marketers a better idea, I decided to take a look at one brand that’s really embraced today’s multi-platform world: CNN. Read on to learn how CNN is working to engage their users across a variety of different platforms:

Mobile App

As an outlet known for covering breaking news, it’s important for CNN to own the in-the-moment news space. That means that waiting for someone to check their email to find out about a news report, to tune into a TV special, or even to open the app and read up on the world’s happenings on their own time isn’t really a great option—the last thing they want is to be CNN: A Not-So-Breaking News Source.

CNN Beyonce PUSH

cnn Beyonce app

That’s where push notifications come in. When you opt-in for push notifications via the CNN app, you get news as soon as it breaks. Since following the app, I’ve been among the first of my peers to know what’s going on in the world, from President Trump’s staffing decisions to Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement.

It’s also worth noting that CNN expertly implements deep linking with their push notifications. That means that when I receive a push notification with a headline that intrigues me, I can click on it and be brought not only into the app, but straight to the article I was interested in.


CNN has embraced push notifications on the web, too. When you log on to the website for the first time, you’re prompted to allow web push on your computer. These pushes typically have the same content as CNN’s mobile push notifications; however, they typically lag behind by a few seconds.

can-web push-permission

By sending push notifications both from their mobile app and their web site, CNN is able to reach more of their digital audience and keep people up to date about the day’s biggest happening even if they don’t have their mobile app installed—or if they don’t happen to have their phone on them.

Social Media

When it comes to social media, CNN is an old hand. By using a number of social media platforms in interesting and effective ways, CNN not only reinforce their place in the news world, but also seamlessly works themselves into users’ routines, increasing the chances that those user make a point of getting their news from CNN


CNN’s instagram feed is informative, but also unobtrusive. While the purpose of push and web push is to deliver breaking or high-urgency information, Instagram provides users with a more curated, visual experience. CNN continues its dedication to providing timely news on its instagram feed, but it’s delivered through images that are not only relevant, but are appropriate for the space—usually squared, thoughtfully composed, colorful, and (of course) filtered.

CNN instagram


Like Instagram, Snapchat typically hosts a very specific type of content. CNN effectively compiles short, digestible stories with clear, highly visual title cards leading to the full stories for people interested in learning more. It’s a simple way for users to get a recap of the goings-on in the world, perhaps during a morning commute or lunch break.

cnn snapchat story


CNN’s Facebook page is a library of news-focused videos, photos, and posts for users to peruse, but it’s their chatbot that truly sets them apart from the crowd. The chatbot helps users to navigate the content on the page, providing them with top stories based on their preferences and also allowing them to search for stories by topic—just by sending CNN a message. A few weeks ago, I saw a friend on my Facebook newsfeed post something about a protest in NYC regarding U.S.immigrants. I went to the CNN bot and typed in “Day without immigrants” and was handed the story instantaneously.

cnn facebook chat bot

This chatbot provides an exciting and powerful new way to get instantaneous news. While people are used to having breaking news stories with catchy headlines fired their way, CNN’s chatbot makes seeking out your own information a speedy, efficient process as well. By creating a news-grabbing experience that is quick, convenient, and accurate, CNN’s chatbot has the potential to become users’ go-to source when seeking out stories on their own.


On CNN’s website, users are able to sign up for newsletters with content curated for their interests. Users can choose from a range of topics like finance, politics, world news, and health, and can even select the time and format of the content they would best like to consume. For example, I subscribed to a newsletter that gives a recap of political happenings in the US before bedtime. I then very quickly realized that politics are not the best sleep aid for me, unsubscribed, and signed up for the “5 Things for Your New Day” report instead.

cnn morning email

Anything else?

When brands have strong multi-platform messaging strategies, it provides opportunities to cross-promote the different platforms while maintaining contact with users and control of the content they receive. For CNN, the individual platforms each accomplish the goal of bringing top stories to users’ attention, but it’s their multi-platform approach that allows them to interact with users at multiple touch pointsa single user could easily engage each of these of these platforms over the course of just one week!

By investing in a presence both on third-party platforms like Snapchat and owned properties like CNN.com and their mobile app (and by taking advantage of the outreach and engagement opportunities each platform offers), CNN is able to meet their audience where they are, providing a customer experience that fits each individual user’s needs and preferences. That’s powerful.

Kelsey Cottingham

Kelsey Cottingham

Kelsey is a writer and editor based in New York. When she's not writing about the latest and greatest in mobile marketing for Braze, you can find her on the hunt for some proper gumbo in NYC.

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