Social Media – Time to take it Seriously

Recent events in the world have propelled social media into being a truly viable and necessary media channel. A robust online or digital persona and presence has become the baseline that all professionals need to establish and manage on a regular basis. Whether it’s for the purpose of business development, career advancement or general publicity and reputation opportunities, staying visible via a well managed online reputation and thought leadership and/or strategic publicity campaign has become a “must-do” for anyone looking to “be found and followed” – on and off line. Naturally, there are plenty of experts out there now writing and speaking about social media – tons of great social media ideas to tap into.

However, I find that even with all the expert advice, coaching and consulting out there (via free or highly paid venues), there are still many people and businesses still very overwhelmed or entirely too busy to deal with the ins and outs of social media production and management (maybe you are one of them or know of someone I am talking about here). Then there are also those who are just plain uninterested to actively engage in using it (even when they know they need to) or those who just don’t do write or create content well enough to get any type of result no matter how hard they try – whether it’s for business, career building or other publicity purposes.

We are at the point where online and social media PR and reputation should no longer to be taken lightly and be met with high-importance. Online media is also now very integrated with mainstream media. Reporters and journalists as well as producers are constantly looking for new stories and information via social media feeds (as we saw with the recent events in Egypt and Japan, Twitter is now an even more viable newsfeed than API or Reuters). Recruiters are now seeking talent via online search threads, and customers and potential buyers are using search engines as well as the social media feeds for information on products and services. So it is more important than ever before to have the right online image in place at all times – whether it’s in the way your profile looks and or the number of followers/size of a network (the size of an audience, after all, it does show influence and reflect on your reputation in the online marketplace).

What a lot of people don’t realized is that in order for it to work, social media production and management MUST involve the human brain and spirit as well as real physical labor – just like how it’s always worked in the traditional media channels! In some cases it therefore makes sense for certain people (as in executives or businesses) to hire a professional who operates as a publicist or promoter and who can keep a social media or online PR presence in check, in motion and refreshed on a regular basis. This “service” may not be so much of a luxury, but really more of a necessity. Let’s face it, busy executives, professionals and even for PR or marketing teams will need more and more support on either the strategic or tactical side of social media as it continues to grow and mature into an influential media and business development channel. Traditional PR firms are just now accepting social media as a viable media channel and are finally stepping up to the plate to incorporate social media strategies into their overall client publicity campaigns. This new media channel, however, is unique in that it will continue to retain both the highly personal and fun aspects as well as the serious, intellectual and business side. The way I see it, the two ends of the spectrum need to be handled very differently. I can only imagine what it must have been like in the early 1940’s when television was considered as the “new media” of its time and how it was eventually handled (on the production end) very differently from radio. Here we are again, history repeated (to an extent)!

Twitter is celebrating it’s fifth birthday today. It’s not going to go away. Time to take social media seriously.

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Laurie Pehar

Laurie Pehar Borsh is a web, social, and traditional publicity producer and manager handling executive/professional talent. Her company supports and represents professionals and businesses too busy, unequipped or uninterested to actively engage in daily social media production and management.

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