In Part I of the Roundtable on Social Media and Advertising, academic and industry participants met in San Francisco to discuss where, how, and why social media have become central to advertisers' work in the last fifteen years. Participants agreed that social media connect brands with everyday people. Further, when pressed to consider advertising's older forms of selling products and services, it was acknowledged that social connections have always played a role. However, many practitioners stressed that what is new is the reach and speed of such social relationships through various digital technologies like social media. For some participants, social media have made brands more transparent and responsible in how they treat the environment and their customers, employees, and communities. Although what makes an authentic relationship between companies and everyday people was debated, there was a consensus that social media make brands come to life for individuals, and that such connections seek to make companies more relatable and relevant, and, therefore, more profitable.

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