When we started talking to our clients in early 2008 about social media and the need to start engaging, there were a few cautious nods of approval. Everyone was sitting on the fence, not convinced of the potential or the need for social media in their business.

Three and a half years on, organisations know they need to understand social media and, while some of them are still careful, they are willing to learn and try.

I’ve been asked lately to speak at various CEO functions on the power of social networking for business. Putting things into context, I always take the opportunity to explain to those CEOs how social media has changed the business ball game…

1. The playing field has been levelled

It used to be that only big companies could afford substantial marketing communication campaigns that would spread wide and far to their customers on the other side of the country or even the globe. Nowadays, even a ‘small player’ can become a thought leader, a go-to expert and own their space by being very action on social media. And the best part it: for most of it, it’s free!
2. Client expectations have changed

With internet access having reached maturity in Australia, it is no surprise that Australians have become used to finding all types of information online, whether it be for a product they want to buy, a service they want to use, a movie they want to go see, a new recipe they want to try or simply to have a chat with their mates on the other side of the city… or the world! Put simply, we have come to expect to be able to find what we’re looking for online, which also means your organisation!

3. Reputation management hits the roof

If our clients’ or customers’ expectations have changed, so has their ability to share their appreciation and anger about anything and everything. You only need to look at the #QuantasLuxury  and #VileKyle  Twitter upheaval that has been going on this week to understand the increased need for reputation management.
Organisations can’t expect to say or do anything without consciously thinking about the possible backlash their behaviour can have. People have always had an opinion (or a plethora of!), but social media has made it common practice to air them freely, widely and wilfully.

I’ll leave you with this very telling YouTube video* on the social media revolution…

* Beware, some of these statistics are already outdated as the video was created less than… six months ago!

By Kim Larochelle, PR Mentor

You can find Kim on LinkedIn and Twitter