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New Media, New Influencers and Implications for Public Relations

August 6, 2008

Marketers and public relations professionals today are confronted with an astounding array of new communications channels. Internet-based social media tools like blogs, podcasts, online video and social networks are giving voice to the opinions of millions of consumers. While mainstream media continues to play a vital role in the dissemination of information, even these traditional channels are increasingly being influenced by online conversations. The "new influencers" are beginning to tear at the fabric of marketing as it has existed for 100 years, giving rise to a new style of marketing that is characterized by conversation and community. Marketers are responding to these forces with a mixture of excitement, fear and fascination. They're alarmed at the prospect of ceding control of their messages to a community of unknowns. Yet at the same time they're excited about the prospect of leveraging theese same tools to speak directly to their constituents without the involvement of media intermediaries.The Society for New Communications Research set out to conduct an examination of how influence patterns are changing and how communications professionals are addressing those changes by adopting social media. The goals were to discover how organizations:Define new influencers;Communicate and create relationships with them;Use social media to create influence; andMeasure the effects of these efforts.Another goal of the study was to use these discoveries to offer a set of recommendations to professional communicators.

SNCR New Influencers Study

March 10, 2008

As more companies adopt social media, they struggle to find effective metrics for deciding who are the most influential players. This is among the initial findings of the SNCR's latest research study, New Media, New Influencers and Implications for the PR Profession.A survey was developed and targeted to the "power users" of social media. Nearly 300 PR, corporate and marketing communications professionals who are very experienced in social media participated in the survey, which focused on how influence patterns are changing and how communications professionals are addressing those changes. In addition, several case studies have been collected.Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that social media tools are becoming more valuable to their activities as more customers and influencers use them. Twenty-seven percent reported that social media is a core element of their communications strategy. Only three percent stated that social media has little or no value to their communications initiatives. Respondents believe that social media is most effective for the following sectors: arts, entertainment and recreation; communications; computer hardware and education.Blogs, podcasts, and social networks are changing the way we think about media and influence. We wanted to learn what criteria communications professionals use to define new influencers; how social media is being used to communicate with these influentials; and how to measure the effects of such efforts. The ultimate goal of the study is to offer a set of recommendations to the PR profession.Respondents reported that the most effective tools for their social media initiatives are currently: BlogsOnline videoSocial networks The top three criteria for determining the relevance and potential influence of a blogger or podcaster are: Quality of content on the blog or podcastRelevance of content to the company or brandSearch engine rankings Surprising to the researchers was the fact that criteria that measured online engagement for blogs and podcasts were among the least important to the respondents.However, for online communities and social networks, the top three criteria for evaluating influence do reflect the importance of online engagement: Participation levelFrequency of posting by the community memberName recognition of the individual Fifty-one percent of respondents are formally measuring the effects of their social media initiatives. The metrics they value most are enhancement of relationships with key audiences, enhancement of reputation, customer awareness of program and comments/posts relevant to organization/products. Close to the bottom of the list was traditional media coverage.