The headline says it all. PR Week columnist Anthony Hilton won’t read this blog post because he almost certainly doesn’t monitor social media.
In his column last week Mr Hilton asked whether it is worthwhile businesses monitoring social media. His view is that the short half-life of online content makes much of it irrelevant and engagement may inflame situations.
“Without wishing to kill off a golden goose for the comms industry, the case for engagement is nowhere near as clear cut as widely assumed,” he says.
There’s no doubt that the internet is changing how we consume editorial content. We no longer read news articles. Instead we scan headlines and chunks of text for subjects that are relevant to us.
Beyond that we use recommendations from our networks or Google to make sense of the proliferation of media content, 200 million Twitter accounts, 500 million Facebook users and more than 200 million bloggers.
Whether or not a business wants to invest in social media monitoring depends entirely on whether it wants to listen to the conversations taking place online about its business and the markets in which it operates.
We’re often asked as PR practitioners to explain the return on investment of social media. I encourage anyone that asks that question to head online and explore the conversations taking place around their business and its markets and determine whether they have a value to their organisation.
Social media can support brand promotion, product development, customer relationship management, recruitment and crisis communication. I could go on. The opportunities for the PR industry as communication in markets shifts to the web and becomes truly open are numerous.
I’m not about to give anyone a lesson in how to sell, least of all Mr Hilton, but it is arguably crisis communication that gives the PR industry the best opportunity to demonstrate value.
Monitoring social media enables organisations to spot and address crisis situations before they break.
Stories used to be broken by leaks or by smart journalists. That still happens of course but issues frequently bubble online in networks before they are picked up by the mainstream media. If an issue can be dealt with quickly a full blown crisis situation can be averted.
Social media also extends the life-cycle of a crisis of course as content is shared online. But you’d need a monitoring service to figure that out.