Social media in societyCredit: Flickr creative commons via Flickr creative commons via

"The most significant business development of 2010" is how Harvard Business School professor Bill George described social networking at the time.

He says that, during that year, social networking, "took a transcendent leap" from being merely a "personal communications tool for young people into a new vehicle that business leaders are using to transform communications with their employees and customers".

Prof George noted that the most important aspect of social media's rapid spread was that it meant that access to key information could be distributed much more widely than ever before. Even companies of the size of IBM were quick to realise the potential of using the internet to spread their messages, and today still hold major conferences on themes based around how they can expand the potential of their business by the use of social media.

One of the most important fields in which social media can push new discoveries forward is in raising awareness of new advances in medical treatment. As healthcare staff and clinicians increasingly expect to be able to find out about the latest advances online, they also hope for them to be closely integrated with the systems they use to manage their clinical workflow, so that they can achieve far better coordination between the many departments and individuals given responsibility for an individual patient's care and treatment.

Businesses in any field can easily learn much from this approach. It also shows that those enterprises which detach themselves from, or are sceptical of, getting involved in social media, are, in future, always likely to be lagging behind when it comes to discovering the latest advances in their field of business. Particularly in the industry of IT recruitment, connecting and networking is of utmost importance so social media is practically a must.

The internet is probably the largest collective resource of knowledge we will ever have. Any question, be it about how to start a business, to how to help it achieve world domination, is covered. And although much of the information offered may be very general in nature, social media, in the shape of comments which people share via their various connections, can help anyone sift the wheat from the chaff, and soon discover which resources are generally considered the most valuable.

Social media channels are also used widely by businesses to reach out beyond the limitations of how they might be discovered through their own website, and, as a result, the search engines which curate all the information they contain.

Customers and advocates who have discovered the business through another channel – and of course we must remember that the internet is far from the only means by which people find out about a company – can also be empowered to share their opinions about the service they have received from a business by adding comments to their own social media channels.

Whether that be through Facebook, LinkedIn, comment boards or any form of online communication, businesses need to be aware that they are probably being talked about through many different media – and by not monitoring and responding to this 'buzz', they are potentially missing out on useful information which could help them greatly in their efforts to market their services.