Fresh eyes

Social media results will prove doubters wrong

social media doubters
Simon Turner Freshfield Managing Director

Written by Simon Turner,
Chief Executive & Group Client Director at Freshfield

Chris Shaw, course leader for the BA (Hons) in Public Relations at the University of Central Lancashire, on the future of social media.

With delicious irony, a Tweet directed me to an online article in the Daily Telegraph last week in which Milo Yiannopoulos slammed social media gurus as a “a rag-tag crew of blood-sucking hucksters who are infesting companies of all sizes”.

And I couldn’t help laughing when a young social media specialist told me how a senior brand manager had remarked during a meeting that “loser-generated content” was a waste of everyone’s time.

Could 2011 be the year of the Social Media backlash? Might the next 12 months end our romance with these new channels which have transformed communication and put the consumer right at the heart of the conversation?

The mood among several hundred delegates at the Social Media Results for PR and Comms conference, held in London this week, suggests that Milo may need more invective over the next 12 months as this is a specialism that continues to grow in confidence and importance as brands see a direct correlation between online engagement and business growth.

The first speaker Will King, founder and CEO of the King of Shaves Company, said his spend on social media had risen from nothing two years ago to £400,000 in the current financial year and he is committing £1million to online activity in the next financial year. King reckons that even this seven-figure budget is a bargain and is certain the ROI will prove it.

So, there’s clear evidence that organisations from all sectors are gravitating towards social media in all its forms and that 2011 will see the discipline moving further into the mainstream. In fact, there was a consensus that soon social media will be a redundant term as its strategies will be so embedded into communication plans.

Sophie Brendel, Head of Digital Engagement at the BBC, was clear how the Beeb is targeting key influencers on the blogosphere and elsewhere based on trust, expertise, reach and impact. Duncan Forrester of Volvo Car UK said that “traditional” journalists and bloggers could expect to attend the same media launches these days and it was no big deal on either side.

It will be fascinating to see where all of this takes us in 2011 and whether any doubters will remain in 12-months’ time.

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