In a previous post, I discussed how switched-on stars are using social media to side-step unwanted spin.

Today, TheNextWeb have a revealing story showing actor Ashton Kutcher to be even more cutting edge: he used live streaming mobile service Qik to record the baiting of paparazzi as he and his wife Demi Moore arrived at an airport.

As well as being a sobering insight into the flipside of celeb life, the skirmish shows how the balance of power is shifting between brands, media and consumers. By presenting footage openly to fans, Ashton and Demi make it harder for anyone to misprepresent them. Smart.

This matters to regular products too, especially those in ‘controversial’ categories such as oil, fast food or where marketing to children is concerned. In these cases, ensuring your side of the story gets across untainted is vital.

But mainstream brands often struggle with social channels and many simply opt out. Conversations about them still happen, pictures still get posted and opinions still get formed – it’s just that they’re not involved.

It needn’t be difficult. If you’re transparent, conversational and, most of all authentic with your use of new media, you stand a much better chance of being heard.