When giants of social media compete, brands stand to win

The pace of change in social media channels shows no sign of slowing.

The pace of change in social media channels shows no sign of slowing. In fact, the competition between top players such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter is becoming ever more intense.

It's not possible to say this too often, but Google+ has the potential to fundamentally change the social media landscape, with its dovetailing of features familiar to Facebook and Twitter potentially establishing a one-stop shop that will woo traffic from both competitors. It attempts to tie in users and weave together a number of popular Google applications and services, such as search, maps, email, and YouTube, in a social media environment.

On the other hand, it could fall short in the same way as past innovations from the search behemoth such as Wave and Buzz, neither of which tapped into the zeitgeist in the way intended. However, the fact Google+ engaged more than 10 million users in quick time suggests otherwise.

Then there are the efforts Facebook and Google are making to incorporate third-party content in their offerings in a more integrated and cohesive manner. Media owners treat this offer with caution, though they eye the potential access to audiences with craving and envy. At this stage, however, many have no choice but to try and tap into people via the large social media locations - because this is where they hang out now, rather than at destination content sites.

The competition to offer new services and functionality is intense, especially between the two big players. While this makes more work for PR professionals, who have to understand, adapt, and incorporate the new offerings in their communications plans, it ultimately improves the ways brands and corporations can engage with audiences.

And it is one of the drivers continuing to fuel the PR economy at a time when the macro environment of rising debt and unemployment is in danger of causing a downgrading in the US' credit rating.

Even in this uncertain environment, the demand for social media services and a need to manage corporate reputation is overriding the natural caution of the modern corporation. 

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