Social media is about more than marketing and branding. It is quickly becoming an essential part of customer outreach for brands. In addition to using social platforms to monitor conversations about their industry, competitors, and products, companies are increasingly reaching out to to their customers via the social Web to communicate messages about what they have to offer. In fact, social media is transforming the way organizations communicate - the many social tools that are available today are very cost-effective compared to traditional approaches such as email and online advertising. Blog posts and tweets enable businesses to create communities, offer immediate feedback or assistance, and promote their products and services.
A surprising number of companies of all sizes have yet to use social media as a communication tool. Socialcast has compiled an interesting infographic that visualizes data from many sources, including eMarketer, the Center for Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and Nielsen, about how Fortune 500 companies use social media. The majority of companies studied found social platforms such as blogging, social networking, and online video to be successful. (In March of last year, I shared some data about about how Fortune 100 companies were using social media at the time.)
Here's a look at why organizations adopt social media, what types of tools have been successful and how important they are, and some examples of how companies have successfully leveraged Facebook, Twitter, and blogging for communicating with customers.