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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Social Media Gets Professional - WSJ

Business Joins the Party

SOCIAL MEDIA: Online networking is transforming the way businesses operate but few understand its true implications

Abi Hardwick/istock
If you want an example of the power of social media, consider this. Starbucks gets 1.8 million visitors to its website every month, Coca Cola some 270,000. By contrast their Facebook pages get 19.4 million and 22.5 million respectively, roughly 10 times the traffic. And every one of those people has given those companies permission to talk to them.

Social media and its impact on business was mentioned by almost every panel member as a key challenge. Jean-Philippe Courtois president of Microsoft International says: "The explosion of social networking with consumers has changed their expectations about how they can and should connect with businesses. 'Real-time' is a new imperative, which is causing many businesses to rethink their customer relations strategies via digital marketing."
Proactive business
This means when people start Tweeting or posting on Facebook that they're planning a holiday or buying a car they can be approached pro-actively. The business can come to the consumer instead of the other way round.

This dialogue with customers cannot be ignored, says Kristian Segerstrale, chief executive and co-founder of the large and fast-growing social games company Playfish. "The social media almost takes the ownership of your brand to the community no matter what you do. People with a message are able to get their opinions to mass audiences very quickly about your products, what you are or what you did yesterday."

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