‘Social media use analyzed’


We were thrilled to be interviewed by Carly Harrington for a piece on the Interactive Springboard social media study.

Social media use analyzed

By Carly Harrington, Knoxville News Sentinel, September 17, 2010

Businesses and organizations across Tennessee recognize the importance of social media, but most aren’t sure how to use the technology trend to its fullest potential.

That’s according to a new survey of communications professionals from across Tennessee that was conducted over the summer by Knoxville firms Interactive Springboard and Bryant Research to determine the relevance and benefits of social media.

“Social media is here to stay. It’s not a fad. Communicators say they feel very strongly about that,” said Mary Beth West, founder of Mary Beth West Consulting and partner in Interactive Springboard with Tori Rose of Blue Media Boutique.

The statewide snapshot provides a glimpse into where such professionals think social media stand and the trend’s potential to be applied within companies and organizations.

It was conducted in conjunction with the Public Relations Society of America members from the state’s five chapters in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Tri-Cities, Nashville and Memphis.

Respondents placed the highest importance on monitoring social media for comments about their organization and using social media for crisis communications.

But while most surveyed believe social media are important tools, there’s a significant gap in how companies are actually applying them.

“For much of the market there is an unclear path,” Rebecca Bryant of Bryant Research said, adding, “There are solutions to help close the gap.”

For some, the uncertainty lies in how to use social media in conjunction with traditional media. For others, it’s how to measure a return on investment.

“The myth is social media is Facebook,” Rose said.

Some businesses are looking at their competitors who are using social media and they throw up a page on Facebook “because everyone else is doing it,” she said.

“What this is showing is it’s back to strategy and planning. These are very set goals,” Rose said.

Social media represent a two-way communication model, West said, that isn’t limited to Twitter and Facebook. It needs to be specific to the needs and goals of that particular company. And that means they need to step back and do their research first.

“There’s a huge case to be made that companies need to go about this in a defined process,” West said.

It’s understandable that a business could be overwhelmed by it all, Rose said.

“It’s huge. It’s new. It’s coming at them like a freight train,” she said. “They want to pretend it’s not there and hopefully it will be gone.”

But it’s something customers are coming to expect.

“You can make a choice not to engage, but you do so at your own risk,” West said.

A copy of the report, “Tennessee Communicators’ Social Media Attitudes and Utilization: A 2010 Snapshot,” may be viewed at http://interactivespringboard.com.

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