Companies that aren’t jumping into the social media mix are making a mistake — wasting a big opportunity to reach out to audiences. Glossy publications with posed pictures and carefully scripted messages have dominated the traditional marketing landscape.

But, now folks want more than that. With countless places to turn for information, particularly the personal, unedited nature of blogs and social networking sites, audiences are now looking for a more authentic voice.

For example, college admission marketers must use social media tool to recruit students. It’s not an option. It’s a necessity. Online blogs, for example, allow a level of interactivity for prospective students and give them an inside look at an institution that traditional marketing materials can not.

The biggest challenge may be convincing administrators, many who may cringe at the openness of social media tools. I would argue that one reason social media bodes well for a company is that it conveys a sense of openness that will translate into trust in a company. In addition, if you’re not in the mix, your target audience will turn elsewhere for the authentic information.