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Communications in the 2000s: The Rise of Search and Social

This week, Forum One is at ComNet19, celebrating the Communications Network’s forty years of connecting leaders working in communications for good to learn from, inspire, teach, and network with their peers. 

As we celebrate, we’re taking the opportunity to look back on the technologies that have fueled the communications sector over the past forty years and what we may have in store for us in the future! Follow along as each day this week we jump into a new decade, from the 1980s to today.

A great deal has changed in communications since the launch and rise of Google in the late 90s and early 2000s. We no longer have to pay for access to research or save physical copies of old issues of papers and magazines to look up past news clippings. More than simply making dissemination of information easy beyond our wildest dreams, search engines gave rise to SEO, content marketing and hashtags. 

The most profound effect on the communications industry has come via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It changed the field of public relations forever in five main ways:

  1. Enhanced the 24/7 news cycle: brands can now deliver news at any time and know someone is listening. Social media provides the opportunity to give play-by-play updates. For example, keeping followers up to date during an election or a crisis. news also travels faster now than ever, often creating a PR crisis and making it more difficult to recover from, clean up, and contain. 
  2. Encouraged a customer focus: social media compelled brands to start building positive relationships with their customers who can now go to social media to sound off about bad brand experiences. 
  3. Made PR more affordable: today, even small businesses can afford to hire a college student studying communications to manage their online presence or manage it themselves, making PR more affordable to the businesses who need it but cannot afford more experienced PR assistance. 
  4. Led to integrated communications: social media forced the integration of marketing, advertising, and PR teams who now have to work together to achieve results. 
  5. Increased brand engagement: in the past, communication was a one-way street where organizations pushed out content. Now, for better or worse, audiences engage with brands and content through social channels. 

The rise of search and social media has paved the way for information to be more accessible and businesses to be more connected. How do you use search and social media platforms to grow your organization’s mission? With the constantly changing algorithms it’s crucial to stay up to date with the latest search and social media practices.

In our next post, we will explore communications in the 2010s and how it brought a new era of content overload and citizen journalism. And in case you missed it, check out our post on Communications in the 1990s.