The end goal of any social media campaign should be increased public awareness and fan loyalty. Too many small businesses view social media as an advertising platform, however, unlike advertising, social media is about horizontal (not vertical) conversations. Functionally, social media is a two-way conversation. The democratic nature of these platforms means that businesses need to refrain from heavy-handed self-promotion in order to increase their social media revenue (a 10-1 ration of promotional to non-promotional posts is the suggested norm).
This doesn’t mean that social media cannot increase sales. What it means is that, similar to strong customer service and products, social media can increase brand trust and awareness, which, indirectly, can increase sales. While one post will not (usually) drive the audience to your business, adhering to proper practices, such as posting regularly, writing engaging and substantial content and doing peer-to-peer engagement will improve your image and awareness amongst potential customers.
Want to know more? Mashable is currently doing a small-business social media series. Six social media consultants work with six small business over a period of, you guessed it, six weeks. We highly recommend this series. Not only does it provide useful tips, but the case studies will provide you a realistic assessment of the benefits of engaging in social media on a full-time basis, and whether you need to hire or outsource your social media campaign.