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PR & Communications Consultant. part-time Twitter addict - @orlaithf. You can reach me here orlaith.f(AT)gmail.com.
Yes, absolutely. The days of having separate digital PR departments are gone. Social media needs to be fully integrated into your PR strategy, it's no longer just an add-on.
Hi Laurent, Yes, you're right, it's still early days and I'm sure we'll see some improvements to the user experience over time. It'll be interesting to see how it develops.
I'm glad to see that this post addresses the relevance of social media monitoring for universities and third-level instituions because we often narrowly associate SMM with consumer brands. In reality social media monitoring is fast being adopted by a broader range of organizations for a myriad of different reasons.
We've recently seen that the FBI are seeking a social media monitoring tool so the reasons and motives for paying attention to what's being said on sites like Facebook, Twitter and blogs are as varied as the tools themselves. You listed quite a few of those tools or providers in your post and, while I appreciate the list is not intended to be exhaustive, it's probably only fair that I mention that Digimind (disclaimer: I work for Digimind) also provides a social media monitoring and engagement solution.
I'm a recent convert to Pinterest and I can appreciate its value within the wider social media mix. I guess one of the drawbacks I find is that the categories aren't as well policed or moderated as they ought to be. So for example you'll find some categories are often cluttered with irrelevant material for that particular category. Of course, it's often quite subjective whether you think cupcakes belong in food & drink or merit inclusion in another category. Is there an opportunity for users to flag irrelevant material? Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that in order to improve the experience for all users it would be a good idea if they tighten up on the categorisation. Or am I being overly pedantic? I'd be interested to hear what others think.
Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, while not exactly hostile places for high profile brands, they do tend to attract and encourage an irreverent humour which can sometimes be quite ruthless depending on the target. To say that it operates outside the comfort zone of many large corporations is an understatement and they need to tread carefully before embarking on a campaign such as the one above.
On the flipside, one of the most interesting and engaging aspects of social media for consumers is that it levels the playing field to a certain extent by holding companies accountable for every misstep. To put the McDonald's case in context, it was an embarrassing slip-up but there's unlikey to be any prolonged backlash. And as you've already noted, companies need to be wary about using hashtags as they're so often hijacked and subverted to undermine the efforts of well-intentioned corporate community managers. The important point is to prevent escalation of the problem and avoid any long-term reputational damage.
As a cheeky aside, I should declare my interest in the issue and point you towards Digimind.com, for anyone interested in managing their social media engagement.