Marketers and public relations professionals today are confronted with an astounding array of new communications channels. Internet-based social media tools like blogs, podcasts, online video and social networks are giving voice to the opinions of millions of consumers. While mainstream media continues to play a vital role in the dissemination of information, even these traditional channels are increasingly being influenced by online conversations. The "new influencers" are beginning to tear at the fabric of marketing as it has existed for 100 years, giving rise to a new style of marketing that is characterized by conversation and community. Marketers are responding to these forces with a mixture of excitement, fear and fascination. They're alarmed at the prospect of ceding control of their messages to a community of unknowns. Yet at the same time they're excited about the prospect of leveraging theese same tools to speak directly to their constituents without the involvement of media intermediaries.
The Society for New Communications Research set out to conduct an examination of how influence patterns are changing and how communications professionals are addressing those changes by adopting social media. The goals were to discover how organizations:
- Define new influencers;
- Communicate and create relationships with them;
- Use social media to create influence; and
- Measure the effects of these efforts.
Another goal of the study was to use these discoveries to offer a set of recommendations to professional communicators.