The impact of social media on modern communication is becoming ever more evident. For me this was brought home again a few days ago when I spent a whole day in London all focused around discussions about Twitter. This would have been unheard of just six months ago – spending time in London on issues such as Twitter and Facebook.
It was the success of #GMP24 that led to the visit to the capital, first to a meeting at the Cabinet Office and then later to attend the Golden Twit awards. Why has the 24 hour campaign had such a lasting impact? I believe it is because it was such a simple campaign that was perfectly suited to Twitter and was an example of openness and transparency. It was something that signified how public sector agencies need to start to work.
From the visit and the discussions it was clear that PR and communication professionals are looking at ways to use social media more effectively and the key to achieving this is to have comprehensive ways to evaluate the activity. There is no simple solution to this ongoing challenge. After listening to a number of presentations about possible applications that can be used to support Twitter and develop evaluation I came to the conclusion that you have to know how you want to use the network before you can identify the most suitable evaluation tool.
But you have to be clear what is being said about you or your organisation across all networks before you start to outline the social media strategy. It then may raise issues of where to focus efforts which in turn will highlight applications and tools that you may need to use.
I have said on many occasions in this blog about how important evaluation is to communication. In these days of cutbacks and financial challenges the evaluation of communication activity is being raised up the agenda. Being able to evaluate the impact of your social media strategy is going to be essential. How many organisations have linked strategy and evaluation so that they can drive their on-line presence?
Perhaps when communication professionals start to do that, we would see the use of Facebook or Twitter as more than just entertaining it would be seen as critical to the business.
In the aftermath of #GMP24 it was not the two Golden Twit awards that was the most important result. It was the combined audience of 78,742 that was reached during the 24 hour period, the 21,000 people who viewed the activity through the GMP website and the fact that there are still more than 17,000 followers on Twitter that were key results in the evaluation. All those say more about the success of the activity than anything else.
The challenge as we go forward remains how to evaluate our activity on social media sites. The impact of social media is clear but there is more to do if we are to be able to explain this to the chief executives and bosses so they understand and support activity. But as communication professionals we are doing it and will do it – there is no alternative if we are to secure the future.