Public relations practitioners are using social media as another outlet to reach specific target groups and as a compliment of traditional media. The easy access of information by consumers and media makes two way communications faster.
According to a survey of 297 communications professionals conducted by the Society of New Communications Research, 78 percent use blogs, 63 percent use online video, 56 percent use online social networks and 49 percent use podcast in their company’s communications initiatives. Other social media such as wikis and photo sharing are also heavily used. Social media is being used to determine strategies, test ideas, gain feedback, personalize relationships, create conversation, influence and persuade, and position opinion leader and expert roles. Practitioners rate program plan’s effectiveness through web traffic counters, search engine ranking, trackbacks, posts and comments, incoming links and RSS feed numbers. The industry is seeing an increase of awareness tracking by social media tools rather than traditional media tracking. However there are no criteria ranking influence on bloggers, online communities and the like.
Jason Falls’ article tilted Social Media is the Responsibility of Public Relations covers the point that in many companies social media is under the IT department. Falls said that social media is a message that needs to be crafted by trained professionals. He also notes that many marketers, journalists and PR people do not have the technical skills, so hiring an IT person to assist with production is a good idea.
Communicators need to know the social media world and those who do not can learn from instructional blogs such as Chris Brogan’s 50 Ways to Use Social Media. Brogan suggests studying admirable social media work done by others and attending social media workshops.