According to IDC, traditional corporate culture remains the largest barrier to successful social media initiatives, simply because social media challenges the hierarchical management model of organizations.

Well, everybody can imagine the challenges organizations have to embrace in an environment where information on the Internet spreads like wildfire. Whoever has something to say, simply posts it on to the net and the community likes to listen and pass on interesting information immediately. Yes, that’s social media!

It simply stands for collaboration or sharing of information between two people or more online. It’s an Internet-based tool that allows for groups to engage in peer-to-peer conversations and exchange content - including video, audio, text and multimedia, which is then published and shared within a social environment.

The emergence of social media has generated a new and innovative way to create dialogue and receive useful feedback in a way never thought possible before.

But how useful are social networks really – especially for businesses?

To answer this question, we should determine first what exactly the biggest draws of social networks are. I would say the additional and greater targeted exposure and increased traffic through links to your website, which in turn helps to improve your company’s search engine ranking, which once again spurs more traffic to your site thereby increasing conversions and sales. Done right, it can further create positive brand association and growing brand awareness, extend your business ventures and bring you more loyal customers.

Another fact you should keep in mind is that mass advertising is increasingly becoming more annoying and ineffective. Whoever has a purchasing intention these days would believe more in what their friends recommend than the subjective experience of an unknown third party or those expensive, glossy brochures that you may have produced for the market.

Another point to mention is that companies better behave properly and treat their customers well, because in this Web 2.0 world, everything will be brought to light. Whoever messes something up will be mercilessly criticized online by disappointed consumers. Those companies that provide positive feedback/support and encourages their customers to be active participators are fit for this new marketing world.

So now is the time to get conversant with social media and jump on the social media marketing bandwagon!

By Daniela La Marca