Social Media as PR Device Comes of Age in 2011: Report

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will evolve into fully developed PR tools next year, a Vocus survey indicates.

Social media, measurement and strategic communications planning are top of the list as areas of focus, according to 508 respondents in survey results Vocus and research partner Deirdre Breakenridge released Dec. 8 titled, Social Media Comes of Age: The Vocus 2011 Planning Survey.

A summary of the findings from the survey indicated PR would be more challenging in 2011. Sixty percent of respondents said PR would be more challenging in 2010. The dynamics of social media and budgets were among the top reasons why. Survey results indicated budgets are expected to improve over 2010. Forty-two percent said they expect budgets to "increase somewhat" or "increase significantly" versus 29 percent that said the same last year. In addition, 20 percent said budgets would "decrease somewhat" or "decrease significantly" versus 29 percent that said the same last year. Search professionals and advertisers were the most optimistic about budgets.

Vocus research also suggested PR and marketing are playing nicer in the social media sandbox. Twenty-three percent of respondents said marketing is leading social media efforts while PR is contributing, while 22 percent of respondents said PR is leading social media efforts with several other departments contributing. These two categories received the highest rankings among six options. There were also high marks for social media maturity on self-evaluation. Organizations overwhelmingly gave themselves high marks for social media maturity, with 67 percent saying they are participating, sharing and contributing to social conversations.

"Social media will be important for two reasons. First, because organizations have found through monitoring that social conversations will occur with or without their participation," said Breakenridge. "Second, organizations found small victories through experimentation this year and will focus on improving those results next year."

Vocus surveyed 508 professionals from Oct. 26 to Nov. 21 to find out. While about half of the respondents were PR professionals, the rest were comprised of a mix, including social media specialists, advertisers and search marketing professionals. "Survey respondents were predominantly from the United States, fairly senior in experience and more than half most closely identify their role as public relations," Vocus research documents noted. "Thirty-five percent of respondents work for corporations while 29 percent work for agencies–these two groups accounted for 325 of the 508 total respondents."