Friday, 18 March 2011

Social media: the communication platform of the future?

Yesterday I traveled up to London for an internship interview at Ketchum Pleon. As part of the interview I had to do a short written task. The question I had to answer was

If you could only watch, read or listen to media outlet, what would it be and why?

What I ended up writing was actually pretty interesting so I thought I would share it with you all:

After thinking extensively about this question I came to the abrupt realisation that as a PR student there is only one way I could answer it; from a communications perspective. Put to anyone else, I am certain that a different answer would be ascertained. However, as a result of my years of studying communication tools and strategies I can only approach this query in a critical manner that others with little understanding of communication techniques and effectiveness could not. That having been said, if I could only access one media communication channel it would have to be social media.

Social media has given way to a new breed of communication and many companies who have employed such strategies are already beginning to reap the benefits. First and foremost the content possibilities of social media are endless. News, stories, updates, photos, videos. There is a platform for every conceivable method of effective communication. Moreover, the audience figures are astounding, offering a diverse marketing goldmine. Facebook boasts 500 million members, Twitter has in excess of 1 million users, while YouTube claims to capture 1 billion video views a day. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of blogs are written and read each and every day.

Now one might argue that a hefty audience is not a sufficient reason to choose social media above other more tradition methods of communication. It is what these figures lead to that makes social media the stand out candidate. The large audiences generated by social media lead to diverse and complex online communities. It brings together people from across the globe with similar interests, opinions, likes and dislikes. Perhaps even more interesting it brings together people with contradictory interests, opinions, likes and dislikes. Hand in hand this generates what people crave most from the media; interaction. Discussions, opinions, arguments, any form of interactive dialogue. It is something which can be found in abundance online and is the backbone of social media.

Put into context, is this not what public relations is all about? Building relationships, creating two way communication and spreading awareness and opinion. Not only does it give the viewer the self affirming sense of participation and value but it gives brands and companies an authentic personality. Social media was not intended to present the finished, polished end product; it is a means for us express our true selves. It gives communicators the opportunity to talk with people rather than at them and suddenly seems less like a simple broadcasting tool. Social media is the communication platform of the future. A future that is rapidly becoming the present.


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Tom Westgate
I am 21 and currently in my second year of a Public Relations and Communications degree at Southampton Solent University and it is awesome. I love hanging out with my friends and I enjoy playing football and rugby and I go surfing with my friends every year! I know when I'm older I definitely want to work in a big city, preferably somewhere hot and on the coast! But before I think about getting a job I want to go travelling. I just want to make the most of my life and see the world! In's allll goood!
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