If necessity is the mother of invention, then these financially uncertain times demand that corporate communicators fundamentally rethink the economics of their marketing and communications. Re-enter social media which, to date, has been adopted by organizations as mostly an add-on realm of experimentation. It is, however, so much more than that.
Approached organically, social media can entirely reshape an organization's day-to-day means of communications, while also adding a layer of accessibility and responsiveness to its underlying operations. Furthermore, social media can net companies a measurable return on investment that far surpasses the more traditional modes of advertising and public relations.
Social media is inherently attractive because of its economies of scale. Once conceptualized and built, a sound social-media platform can be used to engage wider and wider swaths of an organization's stakeholders at ever-diminishing marginal costs. A full-time corporate blogger, for example, can engage a universe of millennial moms one day just as easily as a universe of ecologically-minded enthusiasts the next. In fact, as companies begin to look at themselves more and more as competitive media channels, the cost of reaching new audiences is limited only to the cost of online content production and dissemination. And corporations can save on the abundance of free online content production and publication tools.
To reach millennial moms and the ecologically minded using more traditional forms of advertising and public relations would in no way be a simple proposition, let alone a cost effective one. Marketers are slowly beginning to warm up to this reality. Kellogg, a Ketchum client, just announced that it plans to cut commercial filming up to 20 percent next year because, by its calculations, "digital media trounces television by a factor of 2." A recent PRWeek survey revealed that marketers overwhelmingly agreed that they "would be 'most likely' to cut from many other disciplines before turning to digital if forced to scale back budgets as a result of poor economic conditions."
The organization of tomorrow will today understand that it must evolve to operationalize around its communications function. That is the fundamental shift necessary to successfully communicate in this highly fragmented new media environment. It is also the line in the sand that will ultimately separate the organizations that continue to view new media tools as an end from those that fundamentally understand that new media tools are but a means to achieving a new, more engaged reality. So if ever there was a time to reinvent the way your organization communicates, now would be it.
Gur Tsabar is Global Vice President for New Media Strategies at Ketchum in New York, and is a co-founder of Room Eight, one of New York's most heavily read political community blogs. Gur.Tsabar@ketchum.com.