Speaking at the Florida Public Relations Association 72nd Annual Conference was such a great experience for me. I enjoyed presenting PR Revolution: From PR Past to Hybrid Power, which was received with open arms. After my keynote, one topic of discussion I found extremely interesting surfaced during a Q&A session with the senior counselors. The topic: does the name “social” media automatically create a false impression in the minds of the C-level and senior executives as just “chatting” or “socializing.” Does the name social media convey this message: social media is serious business.
Here’s my quick take on a name. Years ago, my mother told me that she had a couple of names in mind for me before I was born. When she went over her top picks with me, I turned my nose up at her alternative choices. Each one came with an image attached to it. When she unveiled the first one, I immediately thought, “Well that would have made me sound old before my time and from the 1940s.” The second name she considered would have been tough for a little kid. I would have been teased for my entire childhood. It was one of those rhyming names. I’m happy that she and my dad selected the name I have today.
Do certain names give you a mental, predisposed image of what something should be based on your perceptions? After all, companies spend millions of dollars on building their brands (names, experiences and brand promises). So, when we introduce social media for the first time to the higher ups in our organizations, and they hear the word “social” do they resist because they think it is “one big cocktail party.” I don’t have the answer but it would be an extremely interesting study. However, I do know that a name can sound fun, social, serious, smart, etc. So, what would happen if we went to all of our executives before they heard of this phenomenon called social media and said, “We need you to consider a program in Strategic Digital Media because it has a tremendous impact on our business and our competitors are increasing their market share and chipping away at our profits?
I’ll answer my own question. They would have said, what is this Strategic Digital Media, how does it affect my bottom line and how does this make our shareholders happy? They would not have said, “Is this going to cut down on employee productivity and does this mean employees are going to be checking their personal Facebook pages all day?” Of course, regardless of the name, you definitely need to do your homework and educate your executives. But, is the negative reaction and hesitation that many communications professionals face, due to a misperception of the name? Could it be the way “social” is perceived?
Another quick example I can share. When recently working with a client, we were tossing around hashtag names for a Twitter discussion. One suggestion was the initials of the organization and the word “social” attached to it. So for instance it would be something like #XYZSocial. The response to the team was…this makes it seem like it’s one big party. And, you know what…in a way it does.
Maybe we have spent past years viewing “social” as personal and party conversations. But today, social media is so much more than your party talk; it’s moving markets, creating business and generating ROI. So the question is: Do we keep educating on Social Media or is there another name? Would Strategic Digital Media have been a better choice? What do you think? Can we get past a name?