Around 20 years ago communicators were having to get to grips with this emerging thing known as social media. It wasn’t easy. After years of being focused on working with the media and developing campaigns there was something that looked like it was going to have a huge impact. Social media has transformed approaches to communication putting the opportunity into the hands of everyone. But with Twitter and Meta both making staff redundant what next for social media?
In truth I don’t think anyone really knows. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle so social media in some form will always be part of our lives, but I am questioning whether its stranglehold over PR and communication is loosening.
I have long been a supporter of social media despite all the problems it brings. There are a lot of opportunities it has presented communicators over the years. This has been particularly noticeable during a crisis. It gives the chance to provide immediate messages about actions to take, what is happening. It can help to gather views about what is happening and what people have witnessed. It brings people together to provide support to get through the incident.
So, if social media is diminishing how should we change our crisis communication plans? The first thing that is important is to really understand where your audiences are and where the people are when you need to communicate after something happens. This will undoubtedly require a range of channels are used and social media cannot be the only option. Planning for what communication is send through what channels is essential in this period of change and uncertainty.
There is a huge issue with trust and confidence and what people are prepared to listen to or believe. Interesting work at the moment is considering the echo chambers and hopefully future steps will provide guidance about how PR can address this phenomenon. Social media does not build confidence. It is effective coherenet communications that can build confidence.
Life is ever changing. Communication is ever changing. For me, this is the exciting element of the work we do looking for the next thing and assessing societal developments. If social media is fading from prominence how will you build confidence, and deal with a crisis?