Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Digital Integration

A recent article in PR Week reports on the findings of a study carried out by the publication to assess the current use of social media channels by various organisations. Although developing specific social media strategies/channels/departments may seem like the obvious step now for companies in ‘the digital age’, the results of this survey indicate that many organisations are still struggling to effectively manage their digital communications.

The Digital Integration Report is one of the first studies in this area to talk in terms of quantitative data, providing some interesting figures to analyse. For example, 29% of PR practitioners surveyed still voice scepticism over whether digital media had the potential to really improve operations, a quite substantial percentage considering the amount of positive discussion on social media use, particularly within the PR sector.

The results of the study suggest that organisations are struggling to effectively integrate social media strategies amongst existing ways of operating as well as agreeing on which internal department is to take responsibility for the implementation of these strategies. It appears that this line of thinking is one of the main drawbacks for organisations grappling with these ‘new’ communication channels. Although social media is more obviously valuable to marketing comms or PR departments, I believe employees across the organisational board should be aiming to reap the benefits of these technologies by incorporating such activity into their existing work methods. Social media can no longer be viewed as an extra task of the media relations officer but something all staff are familiar with, even as a full time job for someone in a dedicated social media officer role.

With the majority of companies and organisations struggling to keep afloat at present however, this is perhaps an idealistic scenario for the short term. There has, for example been debate within the non-profit sector on how to find the resources to adequately implement social media strategies. Although new media channels may appear free, effective staff engagement with these technologies does come at a cost in terms of how much time is needed to maintain an online presence (as well all know now from our experiences with blogs!). As a result, many non-profits are creating volunteer positions to take responsibility for social media maintenance; a good way to avoid cost issues but perhaps compromising the level of expertise and available hours staff are able to work.

Nevertheless, I would strongly argue that the development and implementation of a well considered social media strategy and ideally the creation of ‘social media officer’ positions within organisations is something that they are only going to be forced to integrate in the future. This report, although highlighting that the use of social media is still in need of fine tuning for many organisations, again stresses the importance of knowledge in this area as an extremely valuable and employable skill.

1 comment:

  1. I agree to your arguement that organisations should consider social media strategies in their concept. And I see also the problem that still a lot of organisations and corporations have outsourced their PR unit so that employees don't have a clear idea how and why the company is presented in a specific way. So it would be the best to employ proper units which should strongly work together with the marketing to elaborate such social media strategies and who can control the general internet presence and resonance in the internet, for example via google analytics.