Listen to users to make Web 2.0 work for you

Lazar Dzamic

In april 2008, TESCO had a sobering experience of social media gone awry. Simon Uwins, the marketing director of the chain's US operations, unwittingly (or honestly, depending on your point of view) revealed in his blog that the roll-out of the company's Fresh & Easy stores would slow down. This triggered a massive share sale among nervous City traders and about £900 million was temporarily sliced off Tesco's market value (1).

Some companies dread social media because they fear the consequences of losing control – as exemplified in the story above – and some because they still haven't got their heads around it.

Yet social media is here to stay. What was evangelically announced in the Cluetrain Manifesto (2) at the height of the dotcom boom is now a reality, regardless of how idealistic it may have seemed to the cynics at the time. Markets have become conversations, millions of them everyday, and companies ignore them at their peril. The broadcast monologue of the past is crumbling and corporates are learning how to listen.