Although most brands want to learn how to use social media to create new customers and unlock revenue growth (it’s easiest to get a budget for that), here is a more comprehensive look at how social media can be used for brand development.

It’s evolution is simply exhilarating:

1. Competitive Intelligence – Knowing more about what new products/programs your competitors are offering, how they’re marketing/positioning themselves, who they’re hiring, etc.

2. Product Development – Listening to the community to help shape a product or brand’s development. This is great for consumer packaged goods, but can be used across many different verticals. A good term I’ve seen used for this is wiki branding. It’s an area I’m intensely fascinated with.

3. Customer Sentiment Analysis – Using tools to collect, categorize, and make sense of conversation for the purpose of establishing how customer moods and feelings are changing about a brand and its products.

4. Customer Service – Using social media to help when customers have a need or inquiry.

5. Advocacy Development – Nurturing clients in the social media space to influence referrals and overflow chatter about the brand (social networking tools inhibit this). When a customer becomes an advocate, I suspect it reliably leads to more referrals, larger product consumption, and greater life-time value.

6. Defensive Branding – I learned this catch-all phrase from Stephen Rappaport (Advertising Research Foundation). It’s when companies monitor social media to respond to customer complaining. It looks like this – we listen, they speak, we speak back and make things right.

7. Public Relations – When there is a crisis situation for a brand to resolve, social media can now persuasively influence the conversation. The company doesn’t have to rely on reporters to get the statements correct, but can instead release it’s own blog article or press release through its social media channels. A good example is Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s creating this YouTube.com video after a disgraceful employee video surfaced on the net.

8. Lead Development – Using social media to create new customers and drive revenue growth. As I mentioned in the intro, this is probably the number one area of interest amongst marketers and entrepreneurs because the money spent is additive in nature.

Later this week, I’m going to write a blog article on how to begin to use social media as a marketing channel that fits inside your greater marketing & communications strategy, and distinguish it’s role versus your sales funnel.

But for now, are there any uses you’d like to add to the list above?

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Andrew Schiestel is the Chief of WOW! Projects at tbk Creative, a web design & social marketing agency that instigates and accelerates consumer action around brands. To contact Andrew about speaking at your upcoming web marketing & communications event, click here. Andrew can be followed on Twitter here.