Friday, March 27, 2015

The post-Social Media economy - and a big role for PR

I admit that I have been remiss in writing blog posts of recent months and it is because I have been thinking about the next evolution and the human process that we are beginning to see already.  It will affect PR as much as social media has done and more.

I am prompted by this article in MIT Sloan Management Review:  

"Social media is now replete with examples of companies enabling knowledge integration outside the confines of traditional organizations. Wikipedia and open source software are perhaps the classic examples, where groups of volunteers come together to create products that directly challenge commercially produced competitors." 

There are examples. Services such as Zen99, which helps workers handle their taxes, services to access accounts from a Mac, PC, tablet or phone with full transparency for accounting professional to manage accounts. There are services that provide valuable real-time advice stand alongside virtual services to check driving records as in Checkr and Task Rabbit,

Online customer-support communities, such as those created by SAP and Dell, allow customers to share knowledge. 

Social media increasingly allows knowledge integration to occur outside and across traditional organizational boundaries, it  is beginning to change fundamental aspects of the firm and how it is managed and professor Gerald C. (Jerry) Kane, is happy to promote such ideas

Globally, the sharing economy’s size in five key sectors was approximately $15 billion in 2014. It’s projected to reach $335 billion by 2025. The success of Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit isn't a fad -- it’s a new way of doing business, reports Entrepreneur.

The divide between the actual, virtual and digital is diminishing.  CamCard is a way of using your mobile phone to turn  business cards into digital data in your address book. 3D printing goes the other way to print along three axis. In China, a 3.6-metre-long, 1.63-metre-wide car has been printed with low-cost composite materials in five days and then assembled for a test drive. The vehicle is powered by rechargeable batteries and can travel at 25 mph

Britain’s digital economy is booming outside London, with 74pc of digital firms now based beyond the capital, and Bournemouth, Liverpool and Brighton emerging as the industry’s runaway success stories.

In fact,we are on the cusp of something much bigger. The digital economy, digital banking (with the "PayPal Here" invoicing app) is well equipped to work without high street banks.

Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security are big issues and the growing role of the digital economy in daily life has heightened demand for new data and measurement tools.

The UK government is a bit po faced but on board:  "Europe’s electronic communications landscape has transformed into a digital world. A world dominated by internet platforms, constantly altered by new and at times disruptive technologies, and full of opportunities for start-ups that pay no heed to geographical boundaries when creating new products and services."

American Baroness Shields was appointed technology adviser to the Prime Minister last year and now holds dual citizenship.  She has a large role to play in this new form of economy.

“12.4pc of our GDP is attributed to technology and digital business, that’s the highest in the G20,” she told The Telegraph. “We are the most digital nation in the world and it is important that government policy makes the most of this enormous potential.”
The FT reports that  "The transformation of the workforce is rapidly expanding as the UK embraces the digital economy, with about 1.8m people — 6 per cent of workers — now employed in a type of job that did not even exist in 1990.'

In the UK, marketers are plunging more and more resources into bolstering the online profile of their brands via PR says Marketing Profs.

Rather begrudgingly and narrowly they highlight reasons why:

  • The Public Relations Consultants Association recently found that 72% of PR agencies are now offering SEO services.
  • The most in-demand services were content creation, outreaching/engaging with influencers, and social networking strategy.
  • More than 60% of agencies have increased their digital marketing budgets, with a particular focus on monitoring, SEO, content creation, and PPC/online advertising.
  • Compared with 12 months earlier, agency revenues from digital sources have increased significantly.
  • Businesses in Britain are increasingly devoting resources to social media; though most of them are keeping this activity in-house, a significant portion are splitting responsibility for social with an agency or completely outsourcing altogether.
  • In the vast majority of cases, responsibility for content creation and social media is handled in-house by the PR and communications team.
  • There's also growing confidence in the ROI gained from social media, with levels nearly matching those of traditional PR activities.

As the economic impact becomes more evident, this activity will draw the PR sector more and more into a new intangible economy and the time look at what this means is now.

What the PR sector thought was its role in social media is now open to question. It now has a much bigger role and I will be exploring it over the coming months.