GroundFloor Media & CenterTable Blog

I recently had the opportunity to attend PR News’ Digital PR Next Practices Summit and interact with a variety of communications professionals while discussing the changing face of communications and social media. The conference included a very good mix of case studies, successful tactics, information on new platforms and “what’s next,” crisis communications using social media and great overarching conversations about communications strategy. The amount of information shared at the Summit was indicative of how quickly our industry continues to change and reinvent itself, so I thought I’d break it down into the top 10 key takeaways from the conference. Here are the first five to ponder:

1) You can’t afford to sit on the sidelines when it comes to social media. Julie Crabill from Shift Communications said it best, “Your brand has already been hijacked and you have two options: join the conversation or do nothing and let others control it.” As we tell our GroundFloor Media clients, people are talking about your company or product whether you want them to or not, and unfortunately you have no control over it. The biggest risk regarding social media is to not participate at all.

2) Join the conversation, but be tactful about it. Start by listening to what people are currently saying online so that you have a good idea of what you’re up against, where there are opportunities and where threats exist. It is the same concept as doing your homework on a reporter before pitching her/him. We encourage all of our clients to “listen” first, and GroundFloor Media conducts a Digital Snapshot™ to do so.

3) Speaking of your brand being hijacked: Google Side Wiki is a new application (currently in beta) that allows you to see all online mentions of a corporation in a browser toolbar while you are visiting their Website. For instance, if I am visiting GroundFloor Media’s site and have Side Wiki running, a real-time listing of all “GroundFloor Media” mentions will be posted in a toolbar (TweetDeck-style) to the left of the browser. It doesn’t work on all sites yet, but you get the idea. Very helpful for consumers or reporters who are researching a company/product, and a game-changer for companies who don’t know what is being said about them, especially in a crisis situation.

4) How do you know Social Media is here to stay? How about some stats:
– Social media users are 83% more likely to be brand loyal than non-users

– The Internet is the most trusted source for information-more than TV and radio combined

– 64% of all news outlets are using video online, including 72% of newspaper Websites

– 95% of news outlets are using video from third-party sources (i.e., citizen journalists)

– 70% of the 118 million bloggers in the U.S. have college degrees and 30% of them list their blog as their fulltime job

– Years to reach 50 million users: radio (38 years), television (13 years), Internet (4 years), iPod (3 years), Facebook added 100 million users in less than nine months, iPhone applications hit one billion in nine months

– The #2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube

5) You need a social media policy. Is it okay for Sally from Accounts Receivable to publically list you as her employer when she is sharing her strong political opinions on Twitter? And that little “accident” at the office where no one got hurt is now funny in hindsight, but the photos are very interesting to the reporter who is working on a workplace safety investigative piece. Your employees are using social media. It’s best to set the ground rules (conservative or liberal, pardon the pun) sooner rather than later. Some of GroundFloor Media’s clients are more suited for basic guidelines while others request our services to develop policies that outline very specific scenarios. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall within, it’s imperative to state your social media policies and make sure employees are aware of them.

Speaking of ground rules, it’s always a good idea to keep blog posts concise for your readers. With that in mind, check back soon for the second half of our ten findings from the Summit.

– Jim

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