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Harnessing Social Media

I'm cautiously optimistic about the approach that businesses are taking with harnessing social media to extend their brands and connect with their customers. Unlike the ham handed ways they have used before (uh...pavilions in Second Life?), They seem to be showing a surprisingly open and organic approach to this new medium. Peter Kim has put together a fairly comprehensive list of what many companies are doing, and the various forms that has already, for me, yielded great results. For instance, here are some of the highlights for me:

- Comcast. Frank from Comcast is a one-man good PR campaign for this much maligned company. Got a problem with an installer? Twitter Frank. Bitching about your reception on Twitter? He's there to direct message you. Want proof? At my company, we recently received scattered reports that Comcast customers were unable to see the sites we host. I pinged Frank, and within minutes, he responded that he was unable to duplicate the problem, but offered to do more research if I sent him more specific info. WOW. Compare that to waiting endlessly on hold. Nice.

- OpenTable. Add their Facebook app, and you can make reservations right where you are usually thinking of them.

- Best Buy. Yep, even this increasingly resented behemoth has figured it out, as the CMO Twitters and blogs. Both were invaluable in the recent "Premier Black" e-mail disaster.

The list goes on, but more and more, I see the blending of the fluidity of social networking putting a face on the traditionally stolid and staid corporate visage. And I have to say, it immediately means more transparency. Hell, even the government is getting the idea: the TSA, one of the most challenging agencies, has been remarkably open in their blog, even to the point of changing policies because of comments made in the blog.

It's a brave new world, and I am thrilled to be livin' in it.


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