The econsultancy Social Media and Online PR Report, sponsored by bigmouthmedia, published today, is the most exhaustive review of the industry undertaken in 2009. I received an early copy and contributed to the commentary.
The 70-page report lifts the lid on client-side and agency digital programmes. It tells a story of an industry experimenting with social media programmes (typically with no dedicated budget or a small budget) and grappling with the issues of engagement, monitoring and measurement.
The report is a must-read for anyone in the PR industry who aspires to remain in the PR industry. Here are some highlights:
- 46 per cent of companies and 45 per cent of agencies are using tools to monitor their brand online. Without exception, all businesses should be tracking the conversations around their brand online. There really is no excuse as the results of the research show such tools needn’t cost a thing.
- 47 per cent of companies are responding to negative comments online. Negative comment is often the start of a conversation that can ultimately transform a vocal critic into a loyal supporter, able to offer support and understanding for your business. Yet all too often, brands are on mute.
- The report is in no doubt that Twitter is the PR tool of 2009. However we’re still in the early stages of experimentation and there are very few examples of real innovation. It’s easy to get hung up on follower numbers and use Twitter as a simple one-sided broadcast channel for corporate messages.
- Metrics to define social media success remain a work in progress. Measurement has been an ongoing issue for the PR industry during the last 50 years. A series of cross- industry initiatives such as Social Measurement Camp are focussing their efforts specifically on what success looks like for a brand in a social network. In the meantime direct traffic and the tone of conversations around a brand are good proxies.
- While the measurement of social media remains an issue, businesses are very clear about the desired benefits of investing in social media programmes, namely brand reputation and customer engagement.