I’m sure that most communications professionals will agree with me when I say that, despite how much benefit you know that social media and online PR can bring to a client, convincing some of them of that value can be like pulling teeth. I’ve stated numerous compelling reasons in the past to much agreement, only for the cheque book to stay firmly in the pocket. But I’ve got a new one that no-one can argue with: God wills it.
In an official message last week, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed that the Catholic Church needs to become fully social media’d, and encouraged priests to start blogging and using videos, animated features and images on the web. Having already launched a YouTube channel as well as Facebook and iPhone apps, he now says: “…priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different ‘voices’ provided by the digital marketplace.”
So how come, if the 82 year old leader of a two thousand year old institution is prepared to embrace social media marketing, marketing directors of many of today’s leading consumer brands are still hesitant to spend some of their budget on online PR?
During December 2009, traffic to social media websites overtook that of traffic to search engines for the first time. The rise of interest in and visits to social networking sites and forums is a trend that is unlikely to stall any time soon. That’s where consumers are hanging out in nice little groups primed for spreading word of mouth, and yet over 80% of marketers still doubt social media’s value to their brands. 74% of brands still don’t have a presence on Twitter, and 60% don’t even have a social media strategy.
I never thought I’d ever say that the Catholic Church was modern and proactive, but it seems to be only a matter of time before His Holiness starts tweeting. It’s a shame that the same can’t be said of many of our consumer brands. What do you think – will Pope Benedict XVI help convince them?
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