It can be easy to dismiss social media as that place where everyone talks about their lunch. But even Twitter and Facebook provide some special opportunities for organisations.

Social media have changed the way businesses relate to their customers. Using free tools like Twitter and Facebook you can receive faster, more honest feedback than you could get from any survey. Your team can also find and fix customer problems that may never have reached you through normal means.

Customers who would never complain directly to you sometimes end up voicing their concerns to the world via social media. By catching and responding to those concerns you can effectively manage the way the world sees your organisation, your team and your work.

There’s something else, just as valuable.

You’ll be able to spot a media storm before it hits you. It’s especially true of Twitter, where a major story can break hours before mainstream news is able to report on it.