Share THIS, too!

Last week Precise sponsored the launch of the CIPR‘s new book on social media – “Share This Too”. It’s the follow-up to 2012’s excellent “Share This”, and is again a collection of short, highly readable, “morning commute ready” essays on all aspects of using social media for internal and external communications. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and intend to write up a review of the book soon.

Share This Too

The event was, as one attendee described on Twitter , “a who’s who of the UK PR scene”, including most of the authors, many of whom are on the CIPR’s Social Media Panel. As the co-editors Rob Brown and Stephen Waddington got up to say a few short words about the book, I was struck by just how much the CIPR’s Social Media Panel has managed to do in such a short time – including their excellent series of “Social Summer” events, with some of the leading lights in digital communications, not one but two books now, and their recent guide to social media monitoring, which includes Precise’s Media Platform+. Stephen will be president of the CIPR in 2014, and if he brings the same infectious, “can do ” enthusiasm to that role, you can expect even greater things from the CIPR next year.

The event also gave us the opportunity to have a tour of the British Library’s Propaganda exhibition, a very timely and pertinent history of propaganda and the tools and techniques of propagating the views of powerful institutions from the 17th century to the present. Starcom MediaVest’s Matt Morrison did point out that the practice of propaganda goes back as far as ancient Egypt, where the pyramids would feature paintings of victories in wars not yet fought!

There was also an interesting glimpse into the past, present and future of consumer insight at the event. The exhibition featured some instances of how the British Home Intelligence Division had used a “Chart of Public Morale” in 1944 to track the public mood and demonstrate the effectiveness, or otherwise, of propaganda during the Second World War. I realised that many organisations still attempt to do the same thing in exactly the same way as they did back in 1944 – with a structured quantitative surveys of sample sizes of consumers, and brand trackers showing similar data from a similar source. At the end of the exhibition there was a Twitter wall, scrolling though the hundreds of thousands of characters from tweets featuring the event’s hash tag #BLPropaganda. The wall as a huge, an imposing, impenetrable black mirror, with bright white characters flashing across it. It was by turns hypnotic and daunting, not dissimilar to the task of mining all of that data for meaning. But this is a glimpse into the future of consumer insight, and the challenge faced by businesses presently – how do we mine this vast but richly filled ocean of consumer opinions to understand what our customers and potential customers think. It made me wonder what this exhibition may look like in just a few years time. Or if companies will still keep doing the same thing.