It’s why Facebook friends and Twitter followers matter as much as sales figures. The enigmatic, Lady Gaga, has become the first to acquire 20 million followers on Twitter, she can do a great amount of good, and damage, to her image, based on how she uses those 140 characters to which a ‘tweet’ is limited. This is the power of social media: immediate, measurable, incremental.
Immediate: PR is about reflexes. How quickly to we react and act to crises, exploit opportunities or support consistent messaging? Long before SM came to be, these questions mattered. But now we have tools that enhance our trade.
Measurable: Because SM takes place in cyberspace, it provides an unprecedented amount of data from hits to clicks and everything in between. Now we know more about our public than ever.
Incremental: With daily contact messages that can be reinforced over time, and built firmly and consistently – the way they should.
With tools like Google and Facebook web traffic analytics, consumer behaviour is more observable and quantifiable than ever before. Brands can really get up close and personal with their markets in unprecedented ways. But the real game-changer may be the Facebook Brand Timeline. It can trace the history of a brand, offer highly customisable sections and even allows brands to send private messages to consumers. The potential of this format is immense, but I’ll leave our own resident cyber-guru George to expound on the virtues thereof. I know when to leave stuff to the experts.
Even advertising agencies are changing their products and services to be more PR-like, with ‘online activation’, and ‘buzz’ creation, rather than one-off messages though TV and print media. The engine behind buzz and activation is social media – and the discipline of harnessing and influencing that social conversation is PR.
The point is, PR agencies are ahead of the game in many ways. Traditional communication is being outpaced by new media, and PR has a history of going beyond the traditional, hence the term ‘publicity stunt’. PR has never been about speaking creatively, it’s always been about being human in all communication, and that’s the greatest strength of SM, and quite frankly, we were there first.