The effect of social media on business

“How will social media change business?”

BusinessWeek’s Stephen Baker threw this question out to his readers, who gave some pretty outstanding answers in the comments.

One reader, Brent Terazzas, pointed out that “businesses are no longer held down by the more ‘traditional’ PR methods of releasing company info”; for instance, through a public relations or advertising firm.  Instead, companies can now speak directly with consumers, whether it is via a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace or some other social network.

Another reader, Shany Seawright, pointed out that “the number of print publications is significantly decreasing.”  Businesses that some refer to as “old media” (newspapers, magazines, etc.) are feeling the pressure to keep their product current, and that means moving it online.

Social media can also be used as a weapon.  Last month, Miller Brewing Co.’s “Brew Blog” broke a story about rival Anheuser-Busch’s new brand of beer, Budweiser American Ale.  By beating their competitor to the punch on the announcement, it allowed Miller to spin Anheuser as a “copycat” – Miller claimed they had thought up a similar brew in 2006.

There are likely many more examples out there of how social media has, for better or worse, changed the way business is done.

How has social media impacted your business?