The primary goal of social media marketing is to stimulate interaction between producer and potential consumers. Using online social networks correctly can help you achieve that goal, but the benefits to participating in them reach well beyond the preferred end result. An interesting tech article in the L.A. Times talks about the the effects of social media networks, applied to the political arena.
One of Barack Obama’s technology managers, Scott Goldstein, said that in addition to using online social networks like Facebook to reach out to new potential voters, they also found them helpful “to make sure that we were providing people information on all of these different social networks so that if they never came directly to our website or signed up for our e-mail list they still knew that the campaign was reaching out to them.”
So for example, with the simple click of "Become A Fan" or "Add to Friends" on Facebook, thousands of potential voters might have opted into continued communication from the Obama campaign via status updates, events, posted items, etc. It’s this type of "passive opt-in" that doesn’t sign people up for mailings, doesn’t devote them to campaign contributions, but still manages to keep them in the social networking loop of the campaign. Even if they are not interested in making calls on behalf of the campaign, or working at a polling place, the value of these smaller connections cannot be ignored.
It just goes to show you that all the little interactions you have on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp!, and others can add up to something groundbreaking in the end. So don’t sweat so much about the big-picture when participating in these networks and get your "hands dirty" on a regular basis. You might be surprised to find a groundswell of support for your business in the end.