Digital communication wants a larger piece of the pie

What will the future of the communication discipline be? A report from the European Communication Monitor 2011 gives a qualified answer, based on answers from over 2,000 communication professionals. The conclusion is though that their skills don’t match their great expectations to digital communication.

I scrolled down to page 78 in the report, where the fun, i.e. the digital part, begins.

55% of respondents state that the most important issue for communication management until 2014 is ”coping with the digital evolution and the social web”. This is up 10% since 2009.

Another important trend is that crisis communication is going down the priority list, whereas internal communication and change management is becoming more important.

According to the report, marketing is going down. These trends correspond well with the tendencies we see in how companies move towards a more social and open approach, where internal communication and change readiness (“forandringsparathed” in Danish) is key to being successful.

Some other areas in fluctation is CSR as well as “personal coaching and training communication skils” (page 87).

In terms of channels, social media is expected double in importance from around 40% today till around 85% in 2014.

It must be noted that “professionals tend to overestimate the changing relevance of channels” (page 92), but the report gives us an idea about what the buzz among European communication professionals is right now.

Ay, there’s the rub

Going deeper into the digital field, the report shows that 70% have or are planning to have social media guidelines. But only 58% has or are planning to have monitoring tools, and only 49% are doing training programmes for social media. 52% measures their social web activities.

It’s interesting that social media guidelines have evolved faster than expected. In a comparative study among the European countries, Denmark is among the most reluctant countries, whereas Sweden and UK is leading the pack (page 98).

From my perspective, social media guidelines cannot stand alone. Training of employees (and bosses) is even more important and a much more effective way to work with social media within the organization than guidelines. Ideally you would do both. I also find monitoring a very important first step when entering the digital sphere. Listen on twitter, Facebook and with Google Alerts, and you will get an idea about where you might fit into the conversation.

Measuring is good, but how do you know what to measure if you don’t monitor and you’re not trained to use the social web?

The answer to this discrepancy might lay in the skills of the communication professionals.  In terms of knowledge and capability in social media, their skills are “moderate” (page 100). As the report conlcludes:

“Private use of social media increases capabilities; but correlations with business-specific skills are weak”

So cutting through the social media and CSR hype, the core point of the report is that the communcation managers should spend the next five years providing training in the areas where they expect significant growth, such as social media and organizational change.

The report has way more data than I can represent here, so dig into it for further knowledge on the European communication field.

Thanks to Svarovschki for tweeting me the report.


Speaking of pies, here’s an apple pie recipe (in Danish) that very much suits the season.

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