Friday, August 08, 2008

Social media divide: User versus observer

In the ever expanding social media space, there is an inevitable chicken and egg question? Do you need to be a social media user to devise online brand strategies or would suffice being an online media observer?

Public Relations practitioners in the traditional media space need not be active participants. Most PR firms are keen to have ex-journalists on their roll, as they have the real world knowledge of actual practices in media. It is easier for an ex-journo to conjure all possible story ideas and sector updates which could be carried in news during lean news days. Also, a media relations as a function becomes relatively easy as most of them share a level of camaraderie and bonhomie with the media.

But, this is not the case with most PR professionals. They are merely observers or at best consumers of mass media with no active involvement in the process of creating content or the real world experience of working in a media firm or a publication house.

New media professionals can merely observe and implement brand strategies by imbibing dispersed knowledge across the web. But is it necessary for them to be active participants and users of web 2.0 tools?

Being an interactive medium, it is relatively easier to be involved with a broad spectrum of platforms and tools in social media space. So, PR persons can acclimatize to the new world order by engaging their audiences themselves.
Also, being a part of the community would help in greater acceptance amongst peer group, communities and potential influencers making PR component an extension of the online persona.

One is clued into new technologies and emerging avenues of message dissemination by being in the know rather than merely accept redundant tools which are no longer effective.

The benefits of being an active participant rather than merely being an observer are obvious. At the same time it is very simple to be a poser in new digital space as the general discourse is easily available.

What defines the two is quality. This will differentiate the posers and pseudo practitioners from the real users and knowledge experts who are clued in. The quality will determine the eventual pay out and survival of the lot.

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