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One of the biggest misunderstandings surrounding social media is that it's a distant cousin of search engine marketing or that it's goals are similar to other forms of internet marketing. This isn't quite true. There are definitely tie-ins; social media can help improve search rankings, it is a valid follow-up component to email marketing, and it can be used as a direct lead generator for certain products and services. However, real success on social media often comes down to knowing the frame of mind of the people on it and realizing that the messaging style is much more akin to television advertising than any of the traditional online marketing formats.
Think about it like this: when someone wants to buy a car, they go to the search engines. They might go to AutoTrader or Craigslist. They may just go straight to a dealership website. They don't think, "Let's turn on the television and hope we see an ad."
They also don't think, "Hmm, I need to get a new car. Let's see what Facebook has to say about that."
Just as dealers have learned that television advertising works even if you can't demonstrate a clear ROI, they're learning that social media marketing and advertising work as well. When people are in television or social media mode, they are in an entertainment frame of mind. They are not fearful. They are not worried. They are not concentrating. They are open to what the two different mediums are about to show them. Nobody wants to see commercials, but they watch them anyway if only passively. Nobody wants to see marketing messages on Facebook, but they see them anyway even if they don't like or comment on them.
Television and social media both help to keep the business branding and messaging in mind, even if it only registers at a subconscious level. If they are in the market for a vehicle at the time, they might react. If they aren't, that's okay. The brand is being presented. When it comes time to buy a car, their subconscious has an opportunity to move them towards the familiar. Both television and social media help businesses become part of the "subconscious familiar" brands when the time comes to act.
Here's a video I made several months ago that discusses the concept.