Where I am today is social media - it is the modern live ingredient of an integrated campaign.
SM contributes to loyalty, and to brand building with content both from the customer and the brand. Today, social media is a stable channel, and a brand needs to be involved in this space. I recall Alex Wippurfurth's book Brand Hijack specifially calling for brands to allow consumers to input into the brand building process, with examples like RedBull. His book certainly preceded the social media explosion - but the idea that people own brands as much as the brands themselves was prescient and 100% accurate.
I don't know which direction social media will take right now, but it's not simply a trend, and continuing top down business comms as usual is just wrong. Social media is real, powerful and has implications for your business. And while we may say or think it's almost come out of nowhere - it hasn't. It's only been amplified through technology. This is the piece that may change - we don't know the how necessarily, but we do know the what - people talk and they talk about your brand.
Think about this - we for years had been in the business of making the brands on which we work buzzworthy, something to be talked about. That was the goal of advertising - we wanted people to talk about our brands. And we know they were - we just didn't the details before the explosion.
Now that they're where we can see them, we need to give the people rights.
What i'm saying is, i'm in support of Wippurfuth's thesis that brands need to formally recognize the consumer's control on their business, on their strategy. Content is and will continue to be uber-important, of course, but the shape of that content really has to include the consumer. It has to be real, authentic, like the Sarah Silverman campaign a few year ago. The results speak for themselves. Like my friend Ben Stiller says, "Do It"