Social Media in Asia – Useful Tool, Not a Crutch

An interesting article came out a couple days ago in the Jakarta Post out of Indonesia. Author Nico Wattimena, who is a senior lecturer at the London School of Public Relations , Jakarta, discusses how social media is changing the way PR is being practiced in Asia. As with most articles on this subject, she first gives an introduction to social media and how it has hit mainstream. She also cautions about how this new phenomenon is still a legal grey area as companies tackle how to protect their brands from misuse and misrepresentation. The real meat and potatoes of the piece is when she begins to discuss how social media is being practiced in Asia, specifically Indonesia. Wattimena then goes on to discuss how social media is proving to be a valuable tool, “Journalists today are bloggers and have resorted to building complex email filters and PR blacklists; this means many of them may be more receptive to pitches again, Said Wattimena. “Reputation-based systems or social networks that give journalists access to reliable information on a company, helps them respond faster to a company’s PR requests.” By using social media along with traditional forms of media relations, PR practitioners will be able to more effectively enhance their outreach efforts. From that point, Wattimena discusses what PR professionals have been grapeling with since the start of the social media phenmenon – how to measure its success as a tool:

Just like traditional media, there is no “silver bullet” or single method for evaluating social media, but there are a number of methods available. As with all campaigns, set out the objectives for the activity at the start and then measure the performance and success against them.

Effective social media sourcing and analysis are: Normalize the social media evaluation – remember, this is just another media type; do not do it in isolation – integrate it with your mainstream media analysis so you have the ability to view a complete and comparable media landscape which reflects the consumer’s media experience and also the consumer’s perspective, seeing mainstream and consumer-generated media side by side; and do not get obsessive about seeing and analyzing everything in the blogosphere – it is misleading and can send costs spiraling as “coverage” volumes build again.

Measuring the effectiveness of any social media campaign has been a tough problem to deal with, but analyzing the objectives of the program and then the success, if any, will be a good indication of its use as a PR tool. However, for this reason, it is not ready to stand alone as a single tool for a PR campaign. For now, anyway, it should serve as a supplement to a solid overall PR strategy. Social media is constantly changing, what would be a problem today could be solved tomorrow. Then again, there is always the constant that new problems will arise. PR practitioners must always be prepared for new challenges.


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