Social Media Changed the Rules

Everyone is a publisher in the social media world of blogs, wikis, photos and video sharing, forums, and networks for meeting like-minded people. Social media are online tools and platforms that allow internet users to collaborate on content, share insights and experiences, and connect for business or pleasure. And we believe what we read from strangers in the social media: some 52% of survey respondents from developed nations said they find " a person like yourself" to provide the most credible information – equal only to the trust in doctors, and much higher than that from your CEO or company spokesperson (according to PR firm Edelman).

Business previously needed only to worry about something negative when it appeared in a newspaper or on the evening news. Now there are more than 110 million blogs, with over 1.6 million posts per day, and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media tracked by blog search engine. Individuals previously lived in relative anonymity, and potential employers knew nothing beyond the contents of a resume or testimony of a given reference. No longer.

The name of the game is egalitarian participation by one and all from the Fortune 100 CEO to your dentist – they are talking about you  and they are being talked about by others. These conversations used to be limited to traditional media, e-mail, or the water cooler, but now they appear where millions can see them online. Word-of-mouth was previously spread among friends and families, but now extends across continents to the masses with the click of a mouse. Consider these examples:

  •   In an article for, columnist Scott Burns asked, “ Is Home Depot Shafting Shoppers?” His description of personal experiences at the retailer led to a conclusion that home improvement company Home Depot “is a consistent abuser of it’s customers’ time.” That same day, the MSN staff received 10,000 e-mails and 4,000 comments in the story’s Talk Back section describing all of Home Depot’s problem.
  • Commercial blender company Blendtec received over 6 million page views in a one-week period for its hilarious “Will It Blend?” series, posted on YouTube and the company’s website. In the series, CEO Tom Dickson attempts to blend everything from an iPhone to a garden rake. The videos were created to introduce the new and pricey home food blender and resulted in a 40% increase in blender sales, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Matt Mullenweg, WordPress blog platform creator, is the #1 Matt in the world, according to Google. At his blog you’ll see a radically transparent Matt, with writing about his open source software philosophies, and plenty of personal information from his interest in jazz to his next speaking engagement and his past last trip with his girlfriend. Matt had a huge reputation blemish when he was exposed for using search engine spamming to reach the #1 spot ( a mistake he quickly corrected). He is the comeback with a great reputation through lots of positive content (at age 22).

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