Spring 2009     News, tidbits and thoughts on improving electronic communications www.pwrnewmedia.com
10 Ways Social Media and the Shift to Digital News are Changing How People Communicate

quoteYou’ve all heard about Twitter, Linked-In and Facebook and many of you probably enjoy sharing what you had for lunch, playing Scrabble with your old high school friends, or cooing over your cousin’s new baby. You may read, and comment, on blogs or on-line magazines over your morning coffee, perhaps you’re even reading about the last newspaper dying or going digital—or even getting that tale in slideshow format! (We’re fans of social media and the blogosphere ourselves—join us on Facebook or Twitter and visit our blog here.)

As users, it can be easy to forget how social media, and the shift to digital news, has changed the way PR and marketing professionals, organizations, media outlets and consumers communicate. But plugging yourself, your organization, and your clients into the conversation is more important than ever! The world of slow moving, top down, one-directional, communications has faded.  In its place is a fast -paced, topsy-turvy world where authority bubbles up from many directions and conversations abound.

The change has happened in so many ways it’s hard to give a full accounting. But we’ve attempted a starter list of just 10 ways this seismic shift has changed how we communicate (and, some tactical tips for taking advantage of it):

  1. Shift from one-directional to multi-directional channels (ex: major media outlet blogs with thoughtful readers speaking back, challenging, correcting facts, or even posting responses on their own blogs)

  2. Multiple authors creating and sharing content (ex:  the burgeoning blogosphere itself as well as sites like Vimeo, BlogTalkRadio or Slideshare where users generate and share content)

  3. Speed (ex: blogs and on-line magazines that break stories many hours before print publications come out, making it harder for print editions to break news)

  4. New ways to forge relationships (exs: potential customers searching for info on-line from an organization’s current customers; retailers getting feedback from customers who join their social networks; customers broadcasting good/bad experiences on blogs and those comments showing up through search; or simply the success of on-line dating sites)

  5. New and more accessible authorities (ex: thought leaders who have emerged from blogs or even as social media gurus--consider how much easier these authorities are to access by following and befriending them than authorities of the past)

  6. Lower barriers to entry (ex: the many inexpensive, often free, resources such as YouTube or Blogger that make it easy for anyone to broadcast their thoughts and ideas)

  7. Small but passionate communities (ex: Facebook groups, or other social communities, that have sprung up around narrow interests… vegan vampire-loving polka fans are a lot less lonely!)  

  8. Uninterrupted access (ex: i-phones, Blackberries, and internet cards that let you take the web with you 24-7… admit it, too much time away from your inbox is stressful!)

  9. Borderless (exs: Google, Skype, on-line international news publications)

  10. Trust and Authenticity (ex: astro-turfing or flogging fallout versus the trust built by organizations that give employees their own blogging privileges)

It would be difficult to overstate how dramatic this shift to an interactive digital world is. (But, case in point, the YouTube classic Did You Know? illustrates it rather nicely!)  Ultimately, social media tools are just that—more tools offering more ways to communicate. And the shift to digital news similarly creates new ways to share and consume news—creating new ways to communicate with journalists and bloggers and to prompt them to communicate about you. Read on for 10 ways to plug yourself, your organization and your clients into the conversation.

Source for stats in circle: YouTube "Did You Know" video