Tuesday, May 5th was Gravity Summit’s “Social Media Marketing for Business” at Stanford. I’ve known Rodney Rumford since Joachim and I made Graffiti for Facebook, and he was kind enough to save me a spot.

The focus of the talks was very much aimed towards large businesses; presentations were given by such notable people as Bob Pearson of Dell, Inc. and Charles Miller from DIRECTV. That said, it seemed there were plenty of small business owners attending, and many of the points were generalizable. The main idea is:

Social Media is conversation. When a business or individual understands this, they can do great things.

Bob Pearson pointed out that “the majority of customers don’t call you.” Businesses have largely been detached from consumers, interacting only when the customer pursues a purchase. This no longer should be the case, as businesses now have the tools to actively engage in conversation with their customers and meet them halfway.

Social Media brings conversations into the open, and allows businesses to be aware of what people are saying. They then need to actively engage in these conversations and be involved in the dialogue. In doing so, businesses will learn more about the community and share more about themselves. In short, they must learn to be transparent.