Q&R in partnerhsip with Farrer & Co. conducted a Pulse Check across 500 + PR Agency MDs in February 2014 that asked the question – “Is Social media turning Professional Services firms upside down?

The majority view (38%) was that it (social media) is having quite an impact. As one respondent put it, “More and more people are wanting personal interaction and we are seeing more relationship buying than ever before.

Social media is one of the tools that allows/provides the personal platforms (to do this). Not every discipline works for every business and we are seeing/doing more and more social media strategies and corporate guidelines.”

The subsequent discussion during a dinner hosted by Farrer & Co, sought to wrap some context around what kind of ‘impact’ social media was having and if it was a truly disruptive force in the communications mix.

The key points covered were:

(1) Time lag: the Professional Services sector lag behind the consumer sector but some parts of the industry are waking up e.g. pharmaceuticals. Some observed that the Professional services sector needs to start embracing social media or get left behind.

(2) Know where to find your customers/stakeholders: it is horses for courses – look where your customers and potential recruits hang out. In other words, knowing where your buyers live is fundamental to determining what communications platform you use.

(3) Which social media platforms provide the best route to market:

• Facebook was acknowledged as an excellent recruitment tool in terms of graduates.

• LinkedIn provides an excellent conduit for Professional Services firms for finding senior players

• Twitter is a great ‘listening’ tool as a starting point

(4) Engagement strategy: having a social media engagement strategy is the first step and from here, you can define the appropriate policies for usage in terms of what employees can/can’t do/say.

(5) Rules of participation: do not be afraid – embrace social media as a conversation tool and don’t feel obliged/forced to participate

(6) Areas of conflict: does the C-level suite support/believe in the communications team’s objectives – is there a latent snobbery towards the practice of social media at senior management level?

(7) ROI: it can help the case for using social media internally if you can measure its impact. There are some sophisticated metrics available but they are still nascent.