The past few weeks have provided a fascinating example of how integrated social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become in our communication habits. They also seem to be providing a strong boost to the profile and shelf-life of big cultural events like the Grammy Awards, Olympic Games and Super Bowl. As suggested in this article, social media tools seem to have become a magnifying complement – rather than a detriment – to major TV and film events.

This certainly rings true judging only by my own experience the past month, with many posts on my Twitter and Facebook networks providing a valuable real-time overlay of news updates, commentary and discussion on topics ranging from Avatar to the Canada-U.S. Olympic hockey game. And the Super Bowl commercials fueled content for days, ranging from clips to rankings and even mash-up spoofs. The source events provide the trigger, but the social networks provide the virtual water cooler – with the community being as large, diverse and global as your personal network allows.

There are several lessons one can pull from this development. One is that announcing the demise of network TV – or even movie theaters – was likely premature, if not totally erroneous. Another is that predicting the impact of technology remains a highly imperfect science fraught with missed calls (did video ever kill radio?) But perhaps the most important for PR professionals is how social media platforms are integrated – if not essential – in the communication habits of millions of people. Whether it be about award programs, sporting events or more serious topics like natural disasters and scandals, social media platforms have become a critical forum for information-sharing  and conversation. Is there any possible excuse left for organizations not to participate?