I think it was evident at this week’s Public Relations Society of America Digital Impact conference that the PR industry has turned a corner from “playing at” developing social Web presences to focusing on advanced tactics. Having mastered the basics, we’re moving on to discuss techniques for optimizing our efforts and honing our message for conversation rather than broadcast. That’s great to see. Here are three things I learned about at Digital Impact.
1. TimelineMovieMaker is nifty. Reflecting the central role that Facebook has come to occupy in many communications programs, Caryn Marooney, vice president of technology communications at Facebook, delivered a keynote. While explaining newish Facebook features such as Timeline, Subscribe and Interest Lists, Marooney pointed the audience toward TimelineMovieMaker, an addictive little tool for quickly generating cool videos pieced together from the photos and videos that appear in your Facebook Timeline. Will brands begin to make their own home movies out of their Facebook activities?
2. Google Plus is great for generating discussion around social issues. Matthias Lüfkens, a managing director with Burson Marsteller who previously devised social media strategies for the World Economic Forum, described the annual forum’s approach to extending its conversation onto a variety of social platforms. It was striking to see that the WEF has about 7 times as many followers on Google Plus as it has on Facebook, even though Facebook’s user base overshadows that of Google Plus by a similar multiple. While Circles and Friend Lists serve the same purpose, there does some to be more discussion on G+ spanning different geographies and communities, perhaps intertwining more people who don’t know each other in real life. That makes it a good platform for discussion about causes and social issues drawing from a variety of perspectives.
3. PR teams are beginning to get comfortable with data. Responding to an attendee’s question, Philip Sheldrake discussed Burberry as a case study of an organization has cast off 20th-century organizational baggage to focus on deriving deeper insights from all of its business functions. For example, cloud-based solutions with powerful analytic tools have allowed Burberry’s information technology and communications teams to work together on studying flows of influence through its customer base, elevating their dialogue. The study of influence will even lead to a new discipline, Sheldrake predicts, that of the influence professional. Such advances are possible because of developments in technologies as diverse as social CRM, the Semantic Web and the vast proliferation of Internet connected devices and objects. Best of all, we’ve only yet scratched the surface of what these tools can do.