Leaders are asking

Social media presents new opportunities for leaders in every sector and at every level. These questions offer insights to CEOs pursuing business innovation, nonprofit directors seeking new models of social change, public officials reimagining their relationship to the public, and citizens who want to understand how social media affects the world they live in.

How can we use social media to increase our sales and revenue?

For most companies, the bottom line in social media is this: how can I use it to increase sales revenue? There are four ways social media can help you achieve this goal: marketing, traffic, loyalty and innovation.

How can my company or organization get started with social media?

If you're leading the charge for social media in your company or organization, you're probably tackling several challenges. How can you strengthen your team's understanding of social media? When and how should you establish a social media presence? And how can you build your own skills?

How can I convince my boss to embrace openness and transparency? (signed, anonymous)

Transparency is one of the biggest challenges in social media. It requires communicators to rethink what it means to "control" a message, and asks business leaders to rethink what it means to "own" a brand.

How can social media help build social capital and social trust?

Is social media good or bad for community and social relationships? This has been a hot topic of debate between so-called "cyber-optimists" and "cyber-pessimists". But frankly, we're less absorbed by the debate over whether the Internet is bad or good than we are by the very urgent need to make it as good as possible.

What are the best examples of great online conversations and communities?

One of the challenges in social media is finding great, relevant examples -- and really understanding what makes them great. We often use this site to give shout-outs to our favourite social media discoveries: the online conversations that have engaged our interest or made us see the world in a different way. We also share behind-the-scenes glimpses and insights from the projects we've worked on ourselves.

How can political campaigns and advocacy organizations use social media to build support?

Political campaigns have embraced social media -- a trend that is only going to increase in the wake of Barack Obama's enormous organizing success. We've been studying and working on online campaigns for longer than Obama's been in politics (oy! this is literally the case) but even we're excited about how social media changes the rules of the game.

How can I stay on top of all the blogs and sites I'm supposed to read?

We're waiting for a new web service that will turn the Internet off for one week out of every month, so that we all have a chance to catch up on our reading. But until that day comes, we have to dig into our box of technical and personal tricks to stay on top of all the content that comes pouring through the tubes every hour. Essential for the modern info-consumer: mastering the ways that RSS (Really Simple Syndication) can bring the content you need to you, where and when you need it.

How can the Internet support social change?

Social media offers exciting possibilities for social change, not just through support of explicitly political projects like MyBarackObama or MoveOn, but through the restructuring of personal relationships, social interactions and organizational dynamics. Nonprofits and social change leaders were some of the earliest adopters of social media because its ability to engage supporters mapped onto their focus on mobilizing and deepening supporter relationships.

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