It appears that the business community is starting to understand that social media has to be part of an effective public relations programme in 2008.

Consumers across the globe are now actively using the popular social networking sites such as Myspace, Bebo, Facebook, Youtube to contact their friends and share content in the form of interesting music and amusing videos. However,  these same people, often become confused as to how social media can then be implemented in a professional/business campaign.

I recently held a meeting with a client who was very interested in what Wolfstar do, and they were equally interested in the analysis we could provide but most importantly they were interested in how we could save them money.

As we continue to show people the power of social media, we find ourselves more and more explaining that the technology is pretty much irrelevant now as we (the social media specialists) deal with that and the truth is editorial content is actually the key.

However, although most of our clients have been enthused by this advice, I have also noticed some apprehension as a small number of business people still see social media as an emerging market – similar to that of the boom in the 90s, which I was unlucky enough to be a part of. At that time I worked in an international public relations agency in London and we watched aghast as our team increased by 50% in two years as the senior directors gladly took the extra funds being invested to publicise the latest website to be launched, all of which were promising to have more than 10 million customers each. At the time we even asked ourselves who is actually going to log onto these web pages but this was all lead by technology and in the end it failed to deliver because we the consumers weren’t interested in the various sites content or we just couldn’t find them.

Social media is very different as this is a fundamental shift in society. It’s true that technology has aided this shift but this is all about how people are now interacting.

We used to read a newspaper or more recently log on a website to get the latest news and information we required. Now we are sharing content between each other whether its amusing videos or useful tips on how to start a new business – people don’t have to type a URL in to find you anymore – if you use social media correctly and effectively, customers and opportunities will come to you and they will want to work with you because your content is what they were actually looking for.

I think it’s right for many people to assume that this is still an emerging market but with more than 70 Million blogs and 120,000 being created every day it’s certainly pretty well established too. In fact, on Monday blogs actually celebrated their 10th birthday. People have been blogging for a decade about everything from serious business topics through to what they cooked for dinner last night.

As public relations practitioners it’s now time for us to help show the technophobes in business that this isn’t about new technologies anymore this is entirely about good quality content and using it correctly.

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.