I love Yelp. Not because I’m a foodie or a big restaurant goer, but for its reviews.
Whatever the establishment—whether it’s a new Bobby Flay creation or garden-variety diner—you can easily find wildly divergent views of the same restaurant, which makes for some entertaining reading.
For one person, the meal is so deliciously good that it’s as if he died and went to food heaven, while another person, who ate at the very same place on the same night, crows about how the Potatoes au Gratin were ice cold, the roasted chicken was way gamey and, oh yes, the waiter spilled wine all over the table.
Reading the comments on Yelp is like a massive Rorschach test, with subjects’ perceptions and interpretations running across the board, and back again.
It’s a similar syndrome with regard to social media, in which one person says it’s the greatest thing since canned beer while another may curse its very existence.
We’ve got ample evidence on the disparate views of social media— and whether it truly enhances the value of PR and communications— via a recent PR News/Cision survey on the state of social media for communications professionals.
We asked PR pros what’s the best/worst thing about social media, and the comments were all over the map, even contradictory.
Here’s a sampling:
The best things about social media:
> You are able to connect with people virtually everywhere.
> You’re able to place your information out at a specific time of day.
> Two-way communication that results in trust and enhanced relationships.
> The ability to build relationships with customers and even strangers that can become customers.
> The ability to get your word out to so many people at no cost.
The worst things about social media:
> While the numbers seem huge, actual reach is often very small.
> There’s way too much of it. Too much content that isn’t relevant.
> Hard to measure and hard to define ROI.
> I can’t find our customers.
> It appeals most to a demographic that has no purchasing power for my products.
Perhaps it’s the aperture with which you view social media. Maybe it depends on whether you look at life as a glass half full or half empty.
There are no right or wrong answers here. But social media is not going anywhere. It will evolve and change, like the rest of digital PR, and, most likely, become an even greater force in marketing communications. The trick is to make it work for your brand or organization, despite any budgetary or operational limitations.
Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1