Snyder is founder and chief executive officer of New Media Strategies, an Arlington-based social media marketing firm. Now with more than 140 employees, Snyder started the company in his Capitol Hill apartment in 1999. What is your work about?

My company helps corporations, brands and politicians connect one-on-one with their customers and constituencies through social media. We help them know what people are saying about them online.

How do you get the word out about what you are doing? And if there is negativity, how do you fight back?

Has stodgy corporate America been resistant or slow to get how important new media is?

Until they get in trouble! Once a handful of bloggers start beating them up and they get 10,000 tweets about that stupid corporate policy they made -- then they get it.

What would your advice be to say, Southwest Airlines for throwing filmmaker Kevin Smith off a flight for being too fat? That got a lot of traction online.

Always be listening and don't ever be afraid to apologize. Today every brand has a way to directly and instantly communicate with the customer, and it can't be a press release.

Consumers and Americans don't expect corporations, brands and politicians to be perfect, what we want is for them to be real. We want to know they are listening.

It sounds like social media is changing corporate and political communication.

In amazing ways. Now, social media is not only the nerve center, but it is also the line of first defense for a lot of brands.

Politicians used to wait to get a nasty letter from a constituent, and they would get a legislative aide to send a response. Now, they are getting flamed on Twitter and that requires immediate action. In real time.

What are trends to watch for in social media?

The rise of mobile is what's happening, and fusing social media and mobile together.

Julie Mason