Just read a piece on What Agencies Don't Get (But Must) About Social Media
that I thought was a pretty good assessment of where things stand. I hear tons of lip service given to "embracing social media" by PR folks who don't post blog entries and have never been on Twitter, HARO, Friendfeed or Facebook. And there are those who believe they're advancing the ball sufficiently by PUSHING their messaging in "social media news releases" rather than taking part in meaningful conversations and responding thoughtfully to comments and concerns of their customers, prospects and partners.
The "Internet as megaphone for your message" days are over, folks. It's a now worldwide coffee shop out there, with candid conversations going on at every table that influence real buying decisions. Heck, it's even becoming a world where co-creation just might spark better ideas than a few geniuses sitting in a room imagining what will appeal to customers next. I'm not convinced that the mainstream customer is proportionally represented in online discussions yet, but there are scads of passionate people — raving fans and raging critics — offering up the kind of commentary that heretofore could only have been gotten by putting together expensive focus groups. Sure, it takes time, especially in the early days as you're figuring things out. However, if you're willing to actively engage in conversations, what you learn just might prove invaluable.