CELEBRITY broadcaster Jonathan Ross was an inspiration to a woman who is blazing a trail at the head of one of Basingstoke’s go-ahead business start-ups.

Linda Cheung, from CubeSocial, revealed how the TV chat show host and radio show presenter had helped switch her on to the power of social media.

And the chief executive of the Chineham-based social media start-up got members of the Young Directors Forum at the Central London branch of the Institute of Directors (IoD) into a twitter as she encouraged them to make the most of the new technology and spoke about how social media is changing business and etiquette.

During the meeting at the IoD, in London’s Pall Mall, Linda told her audience: “Social media is just another way to talk. It has become a means of communication in the same way as email. And if all your clients and contacts are speaking on these channels, you are missing out if you are not.”

Linda readily admits that initially she had a healthy cynicism about the relevance of social media for business.

However, Jonathan Ross helped to change her views in respect of customer engagement, customer research and customer care.

“Jonathan Ross was very good at using social media to talk and engage with his audience,” said Linda.

She said the star was able to tell his fans who he had interviewed for his Friday night TV show before it was aired, and he asked them who they wanted on his playlist for his Radio 2 programme.

She said the broadcaster was able to do his customer research in a clever and efficient way as people tweeted back their preferences and views.

“Within a couple of minutes, he was getting a sense of what his audience wanted,” said Linda. “In what would have taken several hours to put together that playlist, he knew exactly what they would want to hear. So he knew his product was going to be spot on for an audience who cared about what he was going to talk about.”