I believe it started in 2009 with the Iranian protests that followed their elections, which many people felt were rigged. The world was informed about what was going on via Twitter and YouTube. Business people began to realize the potential that social media had for democratizing the flow of information and providing a vehicle to mobilize an army of protestors.
Then again this spring, the Arab countries again led the way in showing the world the power and potential social media had to mobilize and disseminate information. First Tunisia then Egypt showed the world that social media could be used to inspire, mobilize, and inform. The power of people to publish their own content made a mockery of police states’ ability to control the dissemination of information.
That power to publish—whether it is customer reviews, ratings or complaints—has taught the business community that they can’t ignore what is being said about them in social media. That the wildfire of word of mouth comments can help establish a business or kill it. That they must join the conversation to understand what is being said about them, to learn from their customers and respond to them.
When do you think the tipping point was?