Okay...I actually originally posted this as a response for a LinkedIn post that I wrote earlier today but I loved it so much I decided to make a blog post around it. ^_^ If you haven't figured out from my many posts, I am a social media marketer. I do entertainment content promotion & content aggregation & monetization via Internet, mobile & TV platforms. So suffice to say, I spend a lot of time online, and with my marketing background have seen campaigns fly like eagles & tank like rocks.
To put the below comment I made in context, someone posted a discussion article/question asking about whether or not social media was something that everyone should be doing and some "best practices" for it as well. So, I said:
Social media is neither new nor relevant for all industries. Some industries like say pharmaceuticals and tobacco should stay far from it since the marketing guidelines that they face are far more stringent than other industries. In my opinion, social media is really nothing more than word-of-mouth marketing done on a global & digital scale. Rather than me waiting for "Millie from Milwaukee" to send me a letter telling me how wonderful product XYZ is, I can go online and find thousands of Millie's who are either promoting or refuting a product, idea or service.
Likewise, much as others have said [there were a couple of comments above mine], "traditional" social media options (Twitter/Facebook, etc.) are nice additions to a strong marketing campaign but shouldn't be the only concentration. If Twitter and Facebook are having a hard time truly monetizing their platforms, that's usually a really good indicator that it's probably not a good idea to base the success/failure of your company on those platforms as well.
I believe the key to successful marketing via social media is transparency. If you create a Twitter handle or Facebook fan page for your company, please don't fall prey to the marketing fallacy that "the public is stupid". All it takes is a few quick seconds on Google to learn who is linked to who through social sites. Be upfront on who you are, so that when you do promote marketing oriented messages on these platforms, people will understand why they're receiving these messages and the backlash will be practically non-existent.
And finally, don't abuse FB/Twitter and only promote but never have a dialogue. The CEOs of Red Mango & Zappos are great examples of company owners who are truly embracing social media. Obviously these two firms are not relying solely on Facebook & Twitter to create revenue. But at the same time, I know that occasionally I can receive $1 off coupons for Red Mango smoothies and even learn when the CEO of Red Mango is having a birthday party or what the CEO of Zappos is randomly doing. Now more than ever, people want to know that they're connecting with real people, rather than with a faceless "PR Department" who is carefully crafting canned messages. Be authentic, be transparent & be realistic - those are key things to remember in social media.