There are two best uses of social media for business: to attract new leads and to keep customers over the long term. These uses are indirectly related to your profits, in that they bring the market to you but, like the proverbial horse, you can’t make them drink. Many will, nonetheless, if your offer is solid. But social media value is usually measured in terms of new and returning traffic, rather than sales.
On the other hand, thousands of businesses make millions of dollars in online sales, often using social media channels as part of their campaigns. Because they use the internet to make sales, they approach social channels as advertisers. It’s a one-way conversation, and it can be wildly successful if the hook catches on. Who cares if it bears no relation to authentic social interaction? It works, right?
I think the personal dialogues and the obvious ads can coexist. SM channels struggle mightily to present them to us cleanly. I just hope we won’t lose interest in social media as a place for interpersonal interaction. If we stop chatting, we regress, forfeiting the enormous gains for individual expression that the web has promised these many years.