Digital and Social Media – An exciting interactive landscape or scary landmine?
So its 2012 and we know that the new world order of digital and social media is here to stay. It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t email, tweet, text or blog personally and/or professionally. Yet in spite of all this interactive awareness, for many highly articulate and very capable communications professionals, embracing digital and social media at work remains a scary land mine.
Perhaps it’s not helped by the fact that client briefs from across the industry are increasingly demanding digital and social media skills and experience. New job titles have emerged such as Digital and Social Media Specialist, On Line Communications Strategist and Community Support Manager joining communications teams to assist them in the turbulent world of on line engagement.
The question is no longer if or when do we use it, but how best to utilise it effectively. For some companies it’s already their primary choice of communication, while for others it represents a very basic presence in the form of a website; it’s a core skill for some practitioners and newly acquired knowledge for others. However, for a significant majority, the area remains a bit of a black hole.
What is clear is that to be effective, it demands constant attention and diligence; blogs, tweets, any online social presence, shouldn’t be random forms of communication but integrated components of the communications strategy. They may be short or even lightweight but they are also very public with legal ramifications and huge potential repercussions for reputation. Nor are they mediums in which you can dip in and out; neglect can equate to loss of market share, customers, sales and trust. On the other hand, embracing every viable digital or social platform can do more harm than good; many professional careers have taken a nose dive following some indiscreet online comments and from a company perspective, some on line campaigns appear to be at complete odds with their corporate communications strategy.
For many newly emerging communications practitioners, who may lack broad experience, digital and social media is already a core skill on their CV. For some communications leaders, who began their careers before the digital age, it’s a no-go area. Both need to learn from one another and integrate their skills and experience. Perhaps a useful and effective rule of thumb is to engage digital and social media by applying the same PR logic when writing that old staple, the press release:
What exactly do you want to say; why do you want to say it, and to whom?
Embracing digital and social media should be about using a highly effective and exciting medium to communicate a message. If it’s not relevant or meaningful, timely or interesting, it’s probably a waste of effort and unlikely to be best practice.
What’s so scary about that?
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