Lis­ten­ing to and engag­ing with the mar­ket­place are just a few of the ways brands are tak­ing advan­tage of the always-on and con­nected nature of social media.

Accord­ing to ABN Amro’s Ger­ard Lin­de­boom, “The cus­tomer owns social… we just have to be present and lis­ten to them when they are there talk­ing about us.”

And the Dutch bank isn’t alone. Top Euro­pean brands are using social media to lis­ten and engage with fans more fre­quently than ever.  Accord­ing to Social Bak­ers, the top socially devoted brand world­wide in Q4 2012 was Voda­fone UK, with a 77% response rate to cus­tomer ques­tions via Twit­ter. Royal Dutch Air­lines also made the top 10 with a 72% response rate on Twitter.

The key is “know­ing what they talk about and know­ing how much they talk about you,” says Lindeboom.

So how are brands turn­ing this buzz into real busi­ness results?

It’s no secret that con­ver­sions are where social met­rics have pre­vi­ously hit a road block. Prov­ing the value of social media in the wider busi­ness can be a challenge.

FIAT took on the chal­lenge with a com­plete change in direc­tion – from sell­ing cars, to sell­ing rela­tion­ships As Clau­dio Annic­chiarico, Head of Dig­i­tal for UK at FIAT Group, explains, they wanted to bet­ter under­stand their fans and fol­low­ers, and turn likes into sales through build­ing a strong rela­tion­ship to their brands. For Annic­chiarico, this was about engag­ing with their online com­mu­ni­ties and ‘allow­ing peo­ple to con­vert where they choose’.

See how ABN AMRO and FIAT use Adobe Social to turn social buzz into real busi­ness opportunities: