As social media becomes more pervasive in the modern business landscape, creating a strategy for its use can no longer be confined to the tech or marketing side of any operation. In the recently released book, Social Media Leadership: How to Get off the Bench and into the Game, author Michael F. Lewis, chairman and CEO of business services company ILD and consulting firm Social Strategy1, offers managers a guide to understanding and leveraging tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Groupon.

Knowledge at Wharton sat down with Lewis, along with Wharton marketing professor Eric Bradlow and Steve Ennen, president and chief intelligence officer of Social Strategy1, to discuss the opportunities and potential pitfalls of implementing a social media strategy.

An edited version of the transcript appears below.

Knowledge at Wharton: Mike, in the beginning of your book you tell an interesting story about how you realized the importance of social media. Could you share that story with our audience?

Michael Lewis: Sure. We were, in part of our legacy business at ILD, caught off-guard by just how much misinformation there was on the Internet, and there was some frustration among end-users because of that poor information. We took a very proactive approach, and learned a lot about how to listen and monitor what was going on, and how to deal with that directly. I got our team together and made sure that we were all aware that we wanted to be as proactive as possible and that we were trying to reach out to people and they could reach out to us. That was a very valuable lesson. We turned some scars into stars as a result of that.

Concurrently, I was actually here at a Wharton development function and [learned about] the evolution that was taking place in social media and how mainstream it was becoming. As a result of that, we’ve launched a couple of businesses. We’ve launched, a community of small business owners and office professionals. It’s now four years old and grown to about 350,000 members. And we’ve started a separate social strategy division, soon to be a separate company, from our base of legacy businesses.

That’s where we are engaging with corporations, by helping them develop social strategy plans based on what their current status is in terms of engagement on the Internet and what they want to do to grow their business. We’re now even moving into a small business version of that. So it’s been quite an active four years as a result of what we experienced on our own and what I was exposed to here.

Knowledge at Wharton: Eric, I understand that you actually suggested that Mike write this book. How typical is his experience among CEOs? Are CEOs realizing the strategic significance of their companies having a social media strategy? And how are they reacting to that?

Eric Bradlow: I think there’s really two parts to it. The first part is that most people misinterpret what social media’s about. They use it as a talking vehicle. Social media is a listening vehicle. It’s both. But most people don’t understand that the real power is to be able to listen to the customer in a real time and effective way. I think Mike is unique in the following sense: Everyone says, “Well, of course there are tools out there for everyone to do social media listening.” Actually there really aren’t. There are if you’re a big business; you can hire … someone else to build a platform for you. But what do you do if you’re a restaurant owner? If you have two or three different, let’s say outlets for your company? Then there really aren’t the tools necessary. So I think the space that Mike’s working in, I think the space that his book answers, is the next great frontier, which is really social media listening and social media for small businesses and entrepreneurs. They know they need to get in the game, but to be honest with you, they don’t know how. It’s only through that practical experience that Mike’s book brings, that we’ll be able to do that.

The reason it’s also near and dear to my heart is that I spent six years here at Wharton working with the Wharton Small Business Development Center. Small businesses say this over and over again: They want to listen to their customers, but they don’t how to do it. And they don’t know what to do as a result of the data they’re getting back. So I think Mike’s book and his experience is extremely unique in that way and it will be valuable for a lot of different businesses.

Knowledge at Wharton: Steve, to follow up on that a little bit, the social media landscape is evolving very rapidly. For example, Facebook had some 200 million users in 2009 and this year it’s more than 650 million. And obviously it’s more than just Facebook. There’s Groupon, there’s Foursquare and there’s Twitter, to name a few. How has the social media landscape evolved, particularly as it relates to businesses?

Steve Ennen: Well, you’re absolutely right about the scope and scale there. It’s sort of mind-blowing when you think about that on a global level. But there are also thousands of companies that never hit the newspapers or the media that are affecting businesses in different ways, too…. They’re allowing greater collaboration. They’re allowing and developing new business models. And they’re fostering a lot of creativity. That creativity is going to affect traditional business models. When we think about social media, we have to think about it in its entirety and we have to think about the fact there are players there that feed off of Facebook, certainly, but go in many, many different directions. All of them in some way will affect every business on the planet in the very, very near future.

That’s a warning flag we should all be cognizant of, especially at the leadership level. That’s what Mike’s book does so well. It says, “Here are the ways it can affect you. Here are the ways that you can prepare to be effective in using social media and in understanding social media.” The first step is obviously listening, knowing what that landscape is like and knowing how you play or your business plays into that landscape. To bring it down to a nutshell, it’s thousands and thousands of channels, thousands and thousands of new entrants that create fragmentation, creativity and collaboration on a scale we’ve never before imagined.

Knowledge at Wharton: Which I would think is both scary and creates the potential for lots of opportunity.

Ennen: It’s scary if you’re not aware of it…. It’s not a black box necessarily. It’s just a fast moving target. If you can demystify social media, especially at the leadership level, and you can take that through the organizational structure and prepare your organization around that, then you can leverage the benefits that it brings. And you don’t have to be afraid of it. It’s constantly moving, and that’s a challenge that businesses face now because they’re not set up to be agile…. Social Strategy1 works with some global corporations and they’re just not built to take advantage of the changes at the rate they come. But you can be.

And to Eric’s point a little bit earlier — by listening, you have a great sense of when things are coming around the road, so you’re not surprised by the next turn.

Bradlow: Steve said something that I just wanted to follow up that I think is crucially important — and it’s why Mike’s book is unique. It has to come from a CEO. Here’s why: A lot of companies are doing a lot of listening, but their social media strategy is siloed into one aspect of their business. What you really need is the CEO perspective because … it’s not just that every business is affected, but every part of your business is affected. And so listening is wonderful. That’s what I’d frame as one of those “nice to know” things. You can spend a lot of money, but make no money, on nice-to-know things. It’s integrating social media into your business. And that’s why having someone that’s a social media expert write a book, those are great. But having a CEO write a book about social media and about the organizational structure and the impact — it’s a totally different perspective and one that’s really not out there.

Knowledge at Wharton: To bring it back to you, Mike, among the various social media platforms, which ones do you think are the most useful for CEOs and why?

Lewis: On an individual basis, LinkedIn would be my preference in terms of a tool for CEOs to use [on their own]. I think they’ve done some great things with that platform. I’m certainly active on there. And it’s a great way to keep your colleagues and associates posted as to things that you’re doing and to see what they’re doing, kind of on a real time basis.

But you can’t ignore Twitter and Facebook. The impact that these platforms have and will have are just immense. And the depth of the information that you can get on these platforms is really amazing. The kind of promotion and awareness creation that you can do with them is very, very strong. And, again, I think back to the point that we were just talking about, from a CEO perspective we all were sort of at the point — at least I was a few years ago — [of saying] “What about Facebook? This is just something that my kids do.” And, in fact, when I did get on Facebook a few years ago, my kids were like, “What are you doing here? This is sort of our thing.”

But it’s certainly changed, and what they’re offering in terms of ways to advertise and promote your business and create awareness of your brand is something you have to look at, both with Facebook and Twitter and then LinkedIn as well. They are going to be the three places you need to be involved with and know all the aspects of how you can use them to grow your business and improve your brand awareness.

Knowledge at Wharton: Eric, how does social media transform the way that companies can engage with their customers? Could you give us some examples of companies that have made effective use of social media in managing a relationship with customers?

Bradlow: The best example I can really give is with customer service. What social media has allowed companies to do is to listen to customers in real time. You think about the biggest problem companies have: What is it? It’s customer defection and churn. You know why? Because you spend a huge amount of money on acquisition costs, [but] many customers don’t stay around long enough.

And so the opportunity for social media listening in today’s environment, as Mike talked about earlier, is you give people a platform to speak. And you’d better listen then. If you give them a platform to speak … they’re expecting faster response than in previous days. When my mother had a problem with a company, she would write a letter, let’s say to Sears, and hope that somebody in the customer service division would get back to her in her lifetime. Well, those days are gone. The minute someone posts something, they expect someone to be there to read that something. And they expect a response.

So to me, the biggest impact of social media is the opportunity to address problems, as Steve mentioned, in real time. And therefore to lessen customer churn. Because at the end of the day, you don’t make any money when someone comes to your business the first time. You make money when they come back over and over again. And social media has the ability to stem churn.

Ennen: Look at [former New York Congressman] Anthony Weiner and other cases — one tweet can end up in The New York Times. So a lot of those customer service issues can be far-reaching if they surface out of a singular tweet or a singular post on a blog. That’s why the listening becomes so important. From an overall customer service perspective, you can actually look at a trend and understand if there are problems surfacing. Maybe it’s a regional situation. Maybe it’s something inside the organizational structure…. And that’s why it becomes so important to connect with customers and hear the voice of the customer.

Lewis: One other quick thing there, because I think Eric brings up a really important aspect of social media. That customer service is where you really are on the front lines and seeing directly what people are saying about you now nearly in real time. What a lot of CEOs need to remember is that these conversations are going on with or without you. And my view is you need to be having that dialogue with customers where they are meeting and aggregating and discussing your company or your brand, or else you’re just totally missing the boat.

Knowledge at Wharton: Mike, when you’ve got people tweeting for the organization and on behalf of your organization, there’s a certain amount of chance there that a particular tweet could end up in The New York Times for positive or negative reasons. How do you deal with that? You’ve got to give up a little bit of control to let the company’s personality shine through. That’s both a great and potentially stressful thing.

Lewis: Well, you’re right. And it’s something where internal corporate policy can only take you so far in terms of giving guidance on how employees message, either on their work time or their personal time.

The best way to deal with that is to have a constant listening program so you’re aware of anything that could be harmful, anything that a customer says that could be harmful. Because, again, remember that in this world, one tweet could impact any number of people, even into the millions in terms of certain things that get out [and become] viral. And so you want to be responsive and play along. As I said before, the big thing is this is going to happen with or without you. Make it happen with you.

Ennen: Mike talks in Chapter Ten about using social media for corporate governance and compliance. And Social Strategy1 does that for many of our clients. We monitor, not as Big Brother does, but we help them police the policies. We help them get indications of any malcontents within the organization or any of those issues that might surface that could hit the mainstream media or affect the brand.

There’s an element of brand reputation tied to the democratization that the employees have because they can go on social media. But then again, it rolls into a leadership aspect. Because now you have to be aware if you’ve got 10,000 employees [who function as] 10,000 additional voices and the potential impact on your brand. It goes back to listening. But it also goes back to policy. It goes back to corporate governance and compliance. And that’s why social media, again, is a C-suite decision. It’s not something that’s relegated to the marketing department or an intern or even the sales department. It’s got to be an organizational aspect.

Knowledge at Wharton: Eric, how can companies do a better job of managing their reputation through social media? What are some specific, proactive and reactive steps that companies can take to manage it?

Bradlow: I think a unique opportunity, which a lot of companies are not doing, is actually listening to their employees. A lot of people say they have to listen to their customers. But what about listening to your employees? One of the things that’s a burgeoning area for research … is the impact of employee satisfaction on corporate profitability. People have studied for years customer satisfaction. You hear that the University of Michigan has a customer satisfaction index. Well, how about an employee satisfaction index? As a matter of fact, I would think social media would be a wonderful way to listen to one’s own employees and to actually track that.

In terms of opportunities for the company, I think at the end of the day it really is … the real-time aspect of things. People really have expectations for immediate response today. As Mike pointed out, the minute you’re not listening, you have no opportunity for real-time response. And, again, the minute you construct a real-time platform, people are going to expect real-time listening. That’s the big change that’s happening today. But employee satisfaction is a wonderful opportunity to use social media. And as Steve said, it’s not Big Brother watching you, it’s an opportunity for companies to recognize that their employees really are the front line of their business.

Ennen: It’s great in terms of the financial services industry. For mergers and acquisitions and venture capital action, too. If you’re investigating a company, investing in a company, acquiring a company, selling a company, how those employees feel about their product, their work environment, their management team — and how the management team feels about the employees and the work product and the group — become very, very important data points in that exchange. And social media can offer hard, quantifiable data in that particular examination….

Lewis: I think it’s also a phenomenal opportunity that many companies are now discovering. In business, typically profitability is usually somewhere around the margins. As we talk about brands, traditional media is very limiting in terms of time and how much message can be included in print or radio or TV. The beauty of social media is you can get more subtle messaging that talks more in depth about certain things that might be a real strength of your company, whether it might be in your customer service area or other places where you wouldn’t necessarily make a traditional media message out of that.

A lot of times your employees can be great in terms of getting that message out. Because one of the key rules of social media is that user-generated content is the most valued. If it’s content provided by your own employees, the message is they believe in what they’re doing, I should really pay attention to their message to me as a potential customer.

Knowledge at Wharton: Mike, if I’m a CEO and I’m trying to devise a social media strategy for my company, what are some steps for going about that? How do you bring together all of these different pieces — user-generated content, what the employees are saying, what the customers are saying, trying to get at all these different little niches but also trying to communicate a broader message? What do you recommend for CEOs who are interested in doing this within their organization? How should they start?

Lewis: The best thing is to start listening to your employees. Find out how they participate in social media on their own. Solicit their advice and input as to how we could take our business and grow it using all the various tools and platforms and applications that are available in social media. Then it has to be a top-down decision and commitment. Because it can’t be gratuitous. It has to be genuine, it has to be real. For anything you undertake to manage your brand, listen to what consumers are saying, monitoring all that’s going on on the Internet. Be committed to do that. Don’t just do a little bit and then give up on it.

Beyond that, take all that information, solicit help and advice from people in your company and outside your company. And say, “Let me turn some of what I’m learning there into ways that I can now grow my business.” We find in listening and monitoring for some of our clients that there are [needs] that their products are fulfilling within users that they’re not even aware of. And it’s a business opportunity and a way to expand the applications of their products and services.

Knowledge at Wharton: Eric, one of the things that’s critical to any social media initiative is measurement. What is the role of metrics and analytics in the way that companies use social media? What research has Wharton done in this area?

Bradlow: Three and a half years ago, we started the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative under Steve’s leadership. And I think we’ve had themed research cycles every year. The first year, it was on social networks. The year after that, it was on user-generated content.

First of all, it can be quantified. Let’s start with the beginning. Let’s start that as the fundamental beginning. There have been great advances in natural language processing today, Social Strategy1 being one example of a company doing work in that area. You can quantify what people are saying. You can track it…. It’s not listening anymore that’s the hardest part…. The hardest part is … the linking of social media to actual purchase behavior or the behavior that makes the firm the profits.

Because, number one, tracking people with [browser] cookies is not very effective. You could say registered users, that’s one way to track people. I think what you’re going to see is that measurement comes first, profitability comes second. Now we have the ability to measure what people are saying. I think the next big phase you’re going to see is the linking of social media measurement to individual level behavior and understanding. So imagine someone tells customer service, “I’m having a problem.” Do you get back to them immediately? You have to say of course you do. But last time I checked, it’s more expensive to get back to somebody immediately than it is a day, two days, a week, etc. What empirical evidence can you get that suggests how quickly you should get back to someone? If you tie your social media listening to your response time data to your actual purchase history data, you can start to empirically answer questions like this.

When Social Strategy1 and other companies end up getting linked with the commerce data that firms are doing, then you have a powerful tool where return on investment can be measured. How much value am I getting from this social media? Or imagine you run an A-B experiment where half the people you get back to in a day and the other half you get back to in a week. You don’t need an advanced degree from Wharton to say, “The retention rate was 14% on this group and 11% on this group. That’s three percent. Here’s how much money that’s worth. Here’s how much it costs me to get back to people in a day versus a week.” That’s how you turn measurement into action.

Knowledge at Wharton: Steve, What steps are involved in creating a plan for measurement and analytics? Most companies want to use social media to build a strong community around their brand. But how do you actually do that? How does that actually happen?

Ennen: I’ll start with the same thing that we’ve said a couple times, which is listening. But I think that can’t be overvalued really. The idea is that you can set benchmarks through active listening. You can understand where that universe is around the conversation. You can start to quantify different themes and threads and aspects and understand where your community or your customers are at that particular time. Now social media’s very dynamic, it moves often. So you have to continue the process. But you’re going to have set a benchmark somewhere.

Measurement comes first. Know where you are. And then from there you can start to categorize and catalogue different aspects of the organization, different aspects of the brand and different aspects of customer service. And then you’re going to understand more about how to effectively reach, engage and communicate with your audience and potential audience, customers and potential customers. Understanding what messages resonate with them. Understanding what drives purchase intent. Understanding how customer lifetime value can be re-imagined using them as engaged opportunities, as well as just the transactional opportunities.

It’s going to start out with listening as a base line and benchmark for measurement. It’s going to come, secondly, I think, sort of quantifying and deconstructing the themes and the sentiments around your customer base and your potential customer base. And then you just start to fold that into different roles within the organization.

Knowledge at Wharton: Mike, what are the regulatory and compliance issues related to social media that every CEO should know about?

Lewis: Well, that’s a big focus. And if we covered anything in the book that was maybe a little more fresh in terms of real discussion, I think it was the chapter that we had on compliance. And how social media will create new angles to compliance. For example, on the internal side, there’s no one single policy that works for every corporation. Businesses vary by type; certainly in the financial services area there’s a lot of reasons to be far more restrictive in terms of employee engagement on social media than maybe other businesses. So we talk a lot about that. But I think the bottom line is consult with your legal team. Consult with your employees about what is the right message to send, but also the right thing to do for the company. And just kind of develop a policy. And I think the policy should be revisited on a regular basis because social media’s changing so fast.

One other thing that I think that we’re going to see is in terms of financial reporting, social media could be very valuable. It could actually be identifying trends that are taking place that might influence the performance of a business. At some point, I think those things are going to get more intertwined and become a part of the company’s own internal and external financial reporting and audit processes.

Knowledge at Wharton: Eric, social media is increasingly going mobile. People are no longer just accessing Facebook or Twitter on their computers. They’re now using their smartphones, their iPads, really just about anything. What is the impact of that on the way that social media evolves in the future?

Bradlow: … At the end of the day, it’s local hyper-targeting — that’s the ability that mobile devices provide…. You’re starting to see companies — obviously Foursquare and Gowalla, but lots of different companies — where it’s not just about what you’re saying, it’s about where you’re saying it and when you’re saying it. Think about all the changes on the Web in the last ten years in what’s called contextual advertising. It’s not just serving you the right ad. It’s serving you the right ad under the right context, under the right landing page at the right time. Now it’s not just about what Steve Ennen or Mike Lewis or Eric Bradlow is saying, it’s when are they saying it, under what context and under what business situation.

And so what you end up getting in all of these industries is first, let’s just listen to everything they’re saying…. But then the next step is … how do you build context around that? When somebody says something, and where they are when they say it, is probably an important part of the way they’re speaking and thinking about it. If I’m pissed off and I say something, but it’s because I’m right at the cash register, that’s very different than if I say something when I’m back home and I’ve had time to think about it. The way firms interpret that information is very different. Mobile is the friend of people in social media listening. It’s not just that the volume is going up, it’s that the context goes up.

Knowledge at Wharton: Steve, where do privacy concerns fit in?

Ennen: I think it’s important to put it in the context as well. Because there have been privacy concerns for hundreds of years. You know, every new technology, every new marketing approach has the potential to encroach on that. Social media is by definition social. Most of the interactions that take place in social media are meant to be seen. What we’re talking about is not cracking the code of PII — Personally Identifiable Information — or going in and finding out all of your behaviors on your laptop. We’re talking about the person who wants to vent at the cash register because they’re having a great or not great experience. We’re talking about people who are seeking out products and services you may offer. Or they’re listening to their friends or communicating with their friends or colleagues or other professionals about important topics.

The privacy concerns are understandable because it’s new and there’s always the fear that Big Brother is tracking me. But what we’re talking about in terms of active listening and applying mobility in a lot of the new technologies is the fact that these conversations are created to be heard anyway. And it gives us the ability to hear the voice of the customer at their point of need. It gives us the ability to communicate with the customer when they’ve already got a relationship with us. We’re launching a product for small businesses — a social media tool box for small businesses — out there because we recognize small businesses don’t have the time or wherewithal to understand the entire landscape. But they know that they need to reach out to customers in different ways, right? [They’re saying] “Here’s a coupon for your mobile phone, it’s a lot easier than trying to clip it out of the circular.” Or, “Next time you come in, wave your mobile phone or wave your iPad under this thing. We can help you do that.” So, it’s also a matter of keeping up with the times and keeping up with the needs of the customer.

Knowledge at Wharton: Now, Mike, you devote a chapter of your book, “United We Buy,” to the phenomenon of group buying, which is one way that a lot of small businesses are actually getting in on social media. But do you think companies like Groupon still have the promise that they once had? Which social buying sites do you find the most useful and why?

Lewis: Well, if there’s been any real major change since we published the book just a short while ago, it’s been in this area. First of all, I still think that these companies have promise and they will find their niches. And this is really just a new mode of advertising that is available to large and small businesses. At some point the landscape will consolidate. This type of group buying and discounting will still be prominent. But I don’t know that it has the major promise that it was showing, say, earlier this year. But it’s still going to be big and it’s still going to be meaningful.

In the other part of that chapter, we talk a lot about ratings and rankings. And at some point, I think rankings and ratings become real important, too. We also look at launching our set of tools for the small business. Keep in mind small businesses are saying, “We understand we need to do this. We don’t know quite what we need to do.” Except, back to Eric’s point, I think, “We do need to reach our customers. And we need to try to bring in other potential customers. And how do we do that?” Fortunately, the things that have been shown to be successful in the group buying world, Groupon in particular, can now be put in a set of tools where small businesses can offer coupons directly to their customers without worry that it’s going out in a big way to people who may only come in for the discount once and never return. That transaction is not advantageous for the small merchant. [We’re] giving them the ability to produce coupons, to get the group buying activity they want, but under their control. So I think the influence that the group buying sites have had is going to be with us. And I do think they’re going to continue to be a meaningful set of companies. But, obviously, consolidation’s going to take place here pretty rapidly.

Bradlow: Groupon wishes they had taken the $8 billion.

Knowledge at Wharton: From Google you mean?

Bradlow: Yeah.

Knowledge at Wharton: Do you think social media has helped small businesses to catch up to some of the marketing and selling opportunities that larger businesses are able to do because they have more resources? Eric, why don’t you speak to that?

Bradlow: Well, I think the answer’s yes. Actually, to be honest with you, my best resource is my 14 year old son. Anything he’s interested in, he now follows [on social media]. And so he gets — we get — deals and coupons. It’s great. He’s like an information guide to us. The challenge with that is eventually, how is any small business going to rise above the clutter that’s there? Right now maybe five percent of small businesses are doing it. What’s going to happen when that number’s 30%, 40% or 50%? Then I’m going to get 50 tweets saying what’s going on in my local area. Or 50 text announcements about what’s going on. And then all of a sudden, I’m back in the big wash of everyone’s kind of doing this.

It’s still about the right message targeted to the right person at the right time. If you think that your long-run competitive advantage is going to be because we’re doing it and someone else is not, that’s not what’s going to happen. And so those same challenges, fundamental challenges of marketing and advertising, are still going to remain. And I think it relates to what Steve said earlier. You’ve just added another medium to do it, but it’s still fundamentally about messages hitting people at the right time.

Knowledge at Wharton: There’s so many different social media sites out there. Mike, in terms of creating a strategy, is there a point where a company might say, “That particular site doesn’t fit our goals and we’re not going to use it?” Or do you have to be everywhere?

Lewis: The first thing I would say to people in a CEO or chief marketing officer role is that social media is a little bit like taking a drink of water from a fire hose. All the time there’s new applications and new platforms popping up. Which is good, because it’s ever advancing our ability to take traditional selling and marketing techniques and push them out more real time, more individualized and, quite frankly, they will have a positive impact if used right on your business.

But I think the only real way to do this is by making sure that you create the impression to you employees that we are going to be pro-active in social media. We’re going to be pro-active in reaching out to customers and trying to acquire new customers. And once you do that, and make it part of the culture, listen to your employees. They will be the ones coming to you with something they’ve found useful, which may or may not have hit your radar yet. Again, I don’t think there’s any one solution to keeping current on everything that’s happening in social media that would be useful to your business. But if you have the whole organization engaged, I think you’re more likely to stay current than if you’re just doing it at a certain level.

Knowledge at Wharton: The last question for each of you is what is your most important piece of advice for CEOs around the world trying to make the most of social media? Steve, why don’t you start?

Ennen: We have to be aware of the shiny object. Some of these things pop up and they can divert our attention from larger strategic goals. From the C-Suite perspective, you have to be able to see the entire landscape. You have to be able to know what’s coming up. You have to be able to know what’s going to affect your company next, and in a real way so that you can effect organizational change. It does default to listening, understanding the landscape, benchmarking where you are, benchmarking where your company is and benchmarking where your employees are. But as a word of advice going forward, by listening that way, by understanding and hearing where the world is, you’re going to be able to discern what shiny object is meaningful or not meaningful….

It’s going to start with listening and evangelizing throughout the organization. And enabling them to be active in social media. And gearing up for the fact that the world is changing at a rapid rate right now. And it affects every business, as Eric said, every aspect of the business. That’s not easy, to re-imagine your entire organization in the time frames that social media will affect it. But look, social media can topple governments. It’s going to affect your business.

Knowledge at Wharton: And, Eric, what would be your most important piece of advice?

Bradlow: I would go to each and every employee of my company and ask them to think about the way that social media can affect the way they do their jobs. Not half the employees, every employee. And I think the minute it comes from the top down, everybody’s going to start thinking, “You know, you’re right, I could do my job a little bit differently or a little bit better, if I involve social media in it.” And I think that’s the way every company should be thinking about it. Everybody should be a participant in social media.

Knowledge at Wharton: And, Mike, we’ll give you the last word.

Lewis: The number one thing I would say is you can’t ignore it. That is just not an option for any business, large or small. If you’re going to grow and be successful, this has to be part of your overall go-to market strategy. And there’s thousands and thousands of tangents and ways to look at it. But, number one, you just can’t elect not to participate.