December 14, 2012, 11:32 AM — It almost goes without saying that social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn are changing the way companies do business. And while social media has probably had the greatest impact on marketing, it is also changing the way companies recruit, communicate with customers and employees, and handle sensitive data.
As you look back at the past year, here are six ways social media has affected companies, as reported by CIOs and other c-level executives.
1. Advertising, Marketing and PR
The area where social media has affected the biggest change is marketing, advertising and public relations. Instead of having to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on traditional print, television or radio advertising--or even online banner ads--companies can now get their message across for free (at least in theory).
"Social media has revolutionized the way businesses do marketing," says Dave Kerpen, the cofounder and CEO of Likeable Media, a social media and word of mouth marketing agency. "With social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, companies hyper-target their exact relevant audience," as well as quickly adjust their messaging.
2. Research and Development
Thanks to the rise of social media, it's easier than ever to find people passionate about your company or brand--brand ambassadors. And social media savvy companies have been "leveraging these passionate ambassadors, involving them in product development and design decisions," says Blake Cahill, president, Banyan Branch, a full-service social media agency.
Social media sites allow business "to receive feedback on new products and services prior to honing final product design at very low costs over traditional market research. We've even had clients allow social communities to name products and features," says Cahill. The result: greater word of mouth as well as increased early adoption.