I thought it was worth flagging this article which grabbed my attention.   It isn't just the astonishing statistic that there are now more people on Twitter in the UK (10 million) than buying newspapers (9,002,963) - which in and of itself is astounding.  But it is the fact that even a baby-boomer, fairly old-school politician such as John Prescott (former Deputy PM under Tony Blair) has appreciated the huge importance and power of social media in mainstream society.  Yet Twitter is only six years old!

It isn't all about Twitter of course.  Quite often all the focus is on the ubiquitous micro-blogging service, but a whole suite of social media tools combine to have a powerful influence: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Blogs, even the comments box at the foot of news articles.  All these channels provide avenues for comment and sentiment - good or bad.

This is why it is neccessary to invest in more purpose-built tools for the job - like Radian6 - that can quickly provide a view of all channels, not just Twitter; and understand and prioritise whether something requires a response, action or simply to be heard.

@johnprescott's comment that:

"Twitter is OUR media, the public have become the news editors and the Twitter trend list is the running order"

...is in a way an echo of what we often say at salesforce.com in relation to social media - that no longer do marketeers control their brand but the brand instead is an amalgam of what customers are saying about it on social media.  This is why it is so important to listen, and so important to - as we say - line up for the customer where they are, instead of making the customer line up at your store of call centre.  The balance of power has fundamentally shifted in a very short space of time and as a result organisations - media organisations, companies and even governments - can no longer expect to operate as if nothing has changed.  Those that do will swiftly become irrelevant.

As salesforce.com CEO and founder Marc Benioff (@Benioff) said this week in an article on the BBC: 

"Rather than fear this shift, we must use it to stay closer to customers, connect to them and engage with them in entirely new ways.  The companies that will be successful in the future recognise the need for fundamentally changing the way they engage with their customers, and are transforming themselves into social enterprises and radically altering the way they manage their businesses."

If a veteran like John Prescott has got the message, it is a measure of how mainstream this reality
has become.