Recently, I attended an event sponsored by the PRSA and given by the Norcal Business Marketing Association titled Measuring the Naked Conversation- The ROI of Web 2.0.

Katie Delahaye Paine, author of Measuring Public Relationships: The Data-Driven Communicator’s Guide to Success, presented a lot of insight into social media. She said PR and marketing consultants held unavailable insight and experience to clients in the past. With the proliferation of social media and the ability for people to connect and share ideas, any person – for virtually zero cost – can get the collective experience and ideas of everyone else.

An important point about social media Katie reinforced is that it’s not a place to sell and market, it a place for conversation.  Participation may or may not drive sales, but it drives awareness. 

Brand awareness is a big factor for emerging companies and social media can play a significant role. As public relations professionals, we need to continue to change the mindset that the number of impressions is not as important as the quality of those impressions by putting blog and other online mentions into context.

We also have a role in educating and counseling our clients that have not ventured into this arena yet or are just starting to research it. It may be hard to believe for those that have been active online for several years now, but Web 2.0 101 education is still necessary, too.

— by Ron Toledo