Social Media Takes The Lead Over PR

The third quarter of 2010 saw technology companies averaging approximately 50 tweets and 20 Facebook postings, and nearly six blog postings, according to the Q3 2010 Hype Report published by PR Tool Guy, a public relations services firm based in California.

The report includes data for more than two dozen companies and tracks a variety of PR activities and results including news releases, media coverage, blogs and social media postings.

Social media content ranged from communications about new products, customer wins, partnerships and financial events to discussions of industry trends. And while only three of the surveyed companies failed to tweet even once, the most active Twitterers (those with at least 100 tweets) had the most followers, suggesting that social media output has a corresponding impact on company visibility and buzz.

On the other hand, early stage vendors issued fewer than five news releases, on average, for the quarter. These announcements helped companies generate almost 160 mentions, news articles and feature stories, the bulk of which focused on products, customers and partners.

Despite the focus on social media, tech company PR budgets still favour traditional tactics, by a wide margin. Conventional methods such as media relations, news releases and case studies are still highly valued by tech vendors.

So why, when social media are generating the bulk of visibility and buzz are budgets still focused on traditional PR tactics? Perhaps it’s because many tech vendors prefer to handle social media in house, or perhaps it’s just that traditional tactics are seen as easier to evaluate.

But I think the real reason is that, for most companies, social media is still new and, to them, unproven. They prefer to hedge their bets by putting real resource behind the tactics they know and understand.

Still it’s a hopeful sign that social media output remains quite high. As companies continue to learn how to use the social Internet and establish a track record for success, chances are we’ll see budgets more evenly divided in future.

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Sherrilynne Starkie is a consultant at PDMS. For almost 18 years, Sherrilynne has been advising blue-chip organisations on both sides of the pond, covering Britain, Canada and the United States. For three years, Sherrilynne was the Tech Talk columnist for the Isle of Man newspapers. She serves on the steering committee for Isle of Man Women in Business, is on the Executive Council for the Isle of Man Junior Chamber of Commerce. In the past she was on the management committee for the Isle of Man British Computer Society and the marketing committee of Junior Achievement.