NEW YORK: Brand owners from General Electric and Virgin America to Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab are leveraging a range of new social media tools, showing the wide reach of this medium into almost all sectors.

Beth Comstock, the chief marketing officer of General Electric, said the company had sought to answer the question: "How do we connect our customers and employees, and connect them to our machines?"

Through deploying in-house systems, such as a dedicated social platform for its marketers around the world, the company hopes to yield benefits relevant to each of its key stakeholders.

"Social for me gives us new revenue streams, and new ways to bring value to customers. It's accelerating learning, communication, connecting the right people to the right information at the right time on any device," said Charlene Begley, GE's global CIO.

"For GE, with over 300,000 employees, it is about accelerated learning and new ways of bringing value to the customer. For example, we can quickly grab data for an airline to be more efficient."

Virgin America, the air carrier, has also recently introduced Chatter, an enterprise social network, for both passengers and staff on its planes.

"Most of our employees work remotely in airplanes," said David Cush, its CEO. "Being able to tap into an assessment of our peers has never been done before, and it could be revolutionary."

Charles Schwab, the investment services provider, believes this channel also offers a much-needed means of strengthening bonds with customers, and enhancing the reputation of companies,

"Our industry is really in need of trust. It's one of the core tenants of our brand," said Brad Peterson, its CIO. "To be a social business, you have to have it supported as part of the DNA of your company."

Wells Fargo, the financial services group, has utilised systems developed by Salesforce, the software group, to monitor buzz, respond to queries and distribute information about its wholesale banking products.

"Social is no longer just for consumers, it's also for businesses," said Steve Eliss, EVP of Wells Fargo. "With social innovations from, we can bring the Wells Fargo brand to life for every customer in how we engage them."

The gaming sector has already seen a rapid social shift among its core customer base, leaving developers with the challenge of matching evolving habits alongside monetising their products.

"This isn't just a technology change, it's a cultural and generational change," argued Robert Schmid, CIO of Activision, the gaming firm. "I think it's all about being personal and interacting with people in the way that they want to be interacted with ... Social makes us more efficient."

Data sourced from; additional content by Warc staff