June 22, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Radio Roundtable: Corporations giving up on social? Influence algorithms, and real v. fake social media crises

Radio Roundtable: Corporations giving up on social? Influence algorithms, and real v. fake social media crises

This week, Chip Griffin returns to the Roundtable in the co-host chair, and we discuss a recent study that shows social media adoption by Fortune 500 companies appears to be slowing; the early stages of influence metrics and what (if anything) we can hope for in the future in this area, and the characteristics of a real versus a fake “social media crisis.”

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This week’s show is 30 minutes in length.

  • To kick things off, Chip and discuss the recently released study from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, which shows a slowing of social media adoption by Fortune 500 companies. Chip cautions that the methodology of the study should be considered before drawing too many conclusions from posts and articles about the study–after all, it’s entirely possible that associated brands under the umbrella of a larger company do have social media presences. I point out that a look at the Fortune 500 list will yield a number of companies that the average consumer probably hasn’t heard of–they are big B to B companies that probably have less of a need for a social presence. I also point out that some, like Halliburton, would spend more time fending off negative attacks than really developing any meaningful engagement with their target audiences. It’d be a waste of their time, quite frankly. Chip notes that companies need to communicate in a manner that meets the needs of their target audience, and that might not always be in social. He further notes we are probably seeing more of a leveling off of adoption rather than a decline, and that businesses are getting beyond the experimental phase and are now using social in a meaningful way–and this is a good development.
  • Next, we look at social metrics through the lens of the recent Klout algorithm change debate, and discuss the PeerIndex blog post on the development of scoring and ranking methodologies. Chip considers these influence ranking systems bunk–boiling things down to a single value doesn’t take into account the many facets of influence. I point out that while I–and a good many others with some serious measurement chops–agree with him, the fact is people and companies are using these numbers, warts and all. And they are using them for purposes well beyond that for which an influence ranking system was intended. Chip says that anyone who uses an influence tool for hiring or college grades “deserves what they get.” (Agreed. He also uses the term “fundamentally insane,” which is great!) He does find value in the influence circles that these scoring systems provide, and that smart brands and those looking to target would do well to look at that data, rather than focusing on the overall score.
  • Finally, we wrap up the discussion by talking about PR Breakfast Club’s blog post on Real vs. Fake Social Media Crises. Chip asserts that there is no such thing as a social media crisis–a true crisis, by definition, has to go well beyond a flap online and really threaten the brand. An online dust-up doesn’t do that, and as I prove, through my inability to recall some details, most of them aren’t even that memorable in the short-ish long run. (Wait, what?) I point out that okay, if we take the “crisis” part out of it, why are there so many of these flare ups, and why do things get so heated so quickly (calling for firings, etc.). Chip says that part of it is societal–we look for someone to blame. The other component is that we’re all armchair experts–we see a mistake, and we can all quickly hop online and tell the world how we would have done it better. The online component is key to accelerating the vitriol: in the past, this would have meant blowing off steam to one or two others, or a group of colleagues. Now we use social media to tell the world–social spreads messages quickly, both good and bad.

 

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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  1. Pingback: Crisis Byte: An Online Shark Attack or Fishy Little Nibbles?

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