Social media has changed the way the world communicates. Whether it’s messaging a friend through Facebook, listening to a song on YouTube or using Facebook and Twitter to stage uprisings in the Middle East and Northern Africa, social media has changed the way we do virtually everything.

A moving article showing the power of social media, Social media revolution ignites Middle East and North Africa

Organizations are now utilizing social media to communicate with their customers. Rather than talking at the consumer through traditional commercials and cooperate messages, social media allows the company to have a conversation with the consumer. The Social Media Bible calls this transition, “A Fundamental Shift in Power. It’s a shift from pontification to two-way communication.”  This new wave of communication helps build a trusted relationship between company and consumer.

This two-way conservation comes with its challenges. According to The Social Media Bible, an unhappy customer will tell up to 20 people about their bad experience. This statistic was calculated before the days of social media, because now a customer can post their complaint about a company on their Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. which spreads the message to hundreds of people in moments.

However, an anecdote from The Social Media Bible explains when social media can help diffuse a bad customer experience. Safko’s public relations assistant was waiting for a flight when the announcement was made that her flight would be 15 minutes late and so she tweeted, “Continental Airlines, 15 minutes late. What else is new?” When she boarded the plane 15 minutes later a flight attendant brought her a glass of champagne and apologized for the wait. This is an excellent example of how companies can use social media to create personal relationships with their consumers. Social media channels have opened doors for customers to give feedback, reviews, comments and suggestions directly to companies. How a company manages this feedback from consumers could make or break their social media marketing image.

The Social Media Bible’s advice to companies on using social media is, it’s about listening first, understanding the conservation then joining in the conversation.