As someone who has piloted corporate digital strategies for more than a decade—first at Kraft Foods and now across GE—I have guided various groups through a wide array of online marketing principles and practices. These days, the question I hear most, whether it is internally, externally, at industry events and trade shows, or in the press, is: How do we tackle social media, and what are the methodologies we need to apply to get our arms around this concept to make sense of it?

I think the first way to respond to such a question is to simply acknowledge that initially, digital (and now social) media fundamentally changed the ways we do business. Critical to effectively dealing with such changes requires that we shift our perspectives to embrace social and digital technology as a driver of business outcomes. If business is about outcomes, digital technology provides both new ways to get to those outcomes as well as a source of new types of outcomes.

Right now, many people and organizations, even those who have been at it for a while, still see social media in very tactical terms. Spend time on any social media publication's website and you are bound to come upon articles and posts offering up a vast menu of tips on how to accomplish just about anything in the social media sphere. These lists may be a surefire way to attract readers, but they rarely result in successful strategies.

There are, however, a growing number of individuals who look beyond the assortment of tools ...

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