Every year, I look forward to Michelle Hinson
and Don Wright's paper on the use of social media among PR professionals. For the past five years they've surveyed PR professionals - members of IPRA, PRSA, IPR and others -- on their use of social media. This year they received 560 responses from around the globe.
What they found:
- Twitter and Facebook saw the greatest increases both in usage and as the preferred source of news. In 2009, respondents saw search engine marketing as most important. This year Facebook and Twitter were seen as most important.
- In 2009, less than a third of respondents were using Twitter regularly. The percentage more than doubled in 2010 to 64%. Similar increases were seen in the use of Facebook. In 2009 just a bit more than half of respondents were using Facebook regularly. This year, nearly three in four 73% said that they regularly used SoCal networking sites to catch up on news.
- Across the board, PR practitioners feel that whether you call it new media, social media, or blogs, their influence on the practice of public relations is growing. In 2007, just over half said that they believed that social media had changed the way their organizations or their client organizations communicate. In 2010 83% felt that change – which actually made me wonder what caves the other 17% were living in? Even the Taliban would agree that social media has changed the way people communicate. 96% said they spent part of their average workday working with blogs or social media.
- Social media is winning over the skeptics. In 2008 just 66 percent of respondents said that blogs and social media have enhanced the practice of PR. By this year, 81% agreed that it had enhanced the practice.
- Another dramatic shift that Hinson and Wright found this year was in the credibility of social media. While the majority gives traditional news media higher credibility scores, this year fully half of respondents now expect blogs and social media to be honest, tell the truth and advocate for a transparent and ethical culture, up from just 40% a year ago.
- The measurement gap extends to social media: Sadly, while 84% of 2010 respondents encourage research to measure blogs and social media impact, only about a third is actually doing it. Even sadder is that while 90% agree that one SHOULD measure behavior – i.e. outcomes -- the vast majority are just measuring outputs – i.e. Hits (as in How Idiots Track Success).
- On the good news front, people seem to accept the fact that social media encourages two-way conversations. One respondent suggested that "new media enables companies to quickly learn what publics and consumer are saying about their goods and services. And that they enabled communications "without gatekeepers."
- Wondering where to put social media within the organization? More and more people are putting it under the public relations functions – 81% said that's where it belonged in 2010, compared to just 66% in the year before.
- Where the measurement of social media should saw the same shift. Up to 94% percent this year, compared to t88% last year.
- Not surprisingly younger respondents were more likely to recommend using social media in public relations.