By Claire West

Nearly 60% of PR agencies and departments that monitor social media spend no more than two hours a week monitoring social media, despite its perceived importance.

These findings form part of a research project carried out by Daryl Willcox Publishing into the social media habits of the PR industry. The publication of the research coincides with the launch of a new whitepaper examining tools to monitor social media.

Of 376 PR departments and agencies surveyed, 85% said they monitored social media, including blogs and forums, for coverage and conversations.

31% of these said they dedicated an hour or less each week monitoring social media, while 26% spent between one and two hours. More than a third (36%) spent between three and six hours monitoring with 7% putting aside at least a day each week.

90% of departments and agencies monitoring social media said they did so because it was an important element of their media monitoring.

68% of respondents said they used free online tools and search engines to monitor, while 42% said they visited each social platform individually.

“The consensus now in the PR industry is that social media is of real importance and our survey findings support that,” said Daryl Willcox, chairman and founder of Daryl Willcox Publishing. “Our research also suggests there could be room for greater emphasis on monitoring social media despite the many online tools, free and paid-for, now available to help PR professionals pick up online conversation.”

The research also discovered reluctance among PR professionals to join in with online conversations. Almost half (49%) of departments and agencies only joined in when people were getting things factually wrong while 17% did not get involved at all.

26% of respondents said they did engage and declared their PR role while 8% hid who they were representing in online conversations.

Of the 15% which did not monitor social media, 51% cited a lack of resource, 29% said a lack of knowledge stopped them and 11% felt there was no value in it.

Daryl Willcox Publishing's latest whitepaper, ‘An Introduction to Social Media Monitoring’, examines some of the online tools available to help PR professionals with their social media monitoring. Written by blogger and PR professional Ben Cotton, it is available to download from www.dwpub.com/whitepapers