Here's the trick: social media is tantalising and terrifying, all at the same time. It presents huge risk, having that "guest book" revealed to the world. And as we're seeing in South Africa, the primary engagement that customers are having with brands is around service failure. So don't get involved if you can't fix the service.
Then ask yourself... Do you want to REALLY have a conversation with your customers? Or are you just creating a service channel. Service channel is fine, but that suggests a different strategy. Conversation is also fine. It's more expensive, it's more risky but the long term benefits are self evident.
Just don't go into a conversation methodology with a service approach. You'll spend money and waste time.
I do ask myself: what was the last CONVERSATION I had with a brand. Can't really remember. Can you?
I've had plenty of conversations with personalities who represent brands, or represent an interest in a brand. But not directly.