The web's a people business now

With Twitter and other social networking tools, the convergence of our online and offline lives has never been more real. It is becoming second nature to go online to communicate with friends.

With so many apps and services now available to consumers, how can you gain a march upon your rivals. The answer is the same as it has always been. Content. But rather than you producing the content, it is the consumer's content that you want. Our put another way, their data. Their tweets, their photos, their purchase history, and social relationships. Once you know what they are about, then you can communicate with them in a useful manner. This is how you create value for your customers and build long-term relationships.

To achieve this, the old buzz words still apply. Transparency and trust. Consumers have the control because they are the owners of the data. So the best strategy is to give them more control. By giving control to consumers, we have seen the advent of citizen journalism and brand advocacy. Citizen journalism has helped significantly to bring down governments (Egypt, Tunisia) and brand advocacy is the "sweet-spot" for e-tailers or indeed anyone with a brand. Through working with audiences more effectively, the results have been tremendous.

Those brands who have achieved success have given up some control, in order to gain a voice and social influence. They have basically put people before technology. All brands should follow suit.