The collection of Web capabilities and practices grouped under the rubric of "Social Media" has quickly morphed from a cutting-edge way to foster brand awareness to a mainstream business practice. In fact, given its growing popularity, companies that don't get their arms around social media may risk tumbling into a competitive abyss.
The technology still poses risks; giving consumers a platform from which they can shape a brand's message is a scary proposition, and there have been plenty of stories about employees blogging or tweeting everything from confidential company information to racist rhetoric. But companies are increasingly deciding that the benefits win out.
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