Gary Vaynerchuk, who wrote the excellent social media strategy guide, "Crush It" will be publishing "The Thank You Economy" in March of next year. The product description on Amazon.com outlines his contention that "the people and companies harnessing the word-of-mouth power provided by multiplatform media - those that can shift their outlook and operations to be more customer-aware and fan-friendly - will pull away from the pack and profit in today's markets."
This is really the key, I think, to understanding the real practical purpose of social media. So many people try to analyze the worth of social media by using old-school standards and measurements - "What's the ROI?" being the most common question. Social media, being a social strategy, can't be evaluated as a simple marketing tool. After all, As this great video based the book Socialnomics asks, "What's the ROI of a telephone?"
Public perception sometimes is a brute; it doesn't invite subtlety. It demands simplicity. It resists change. The emergence of social media - and it's power to create a real personal connection with fans/followers/friends - is still a difficult concept to understand or apply.
Social Media is providing each of us the opportunity to create our own personalized community. How we use that community - from simple human interaction all the way to building product (or personal brand) loyalty (if that's your thing) - is entirely dependent upon our own individual imaginations - and our appreciation of our followers/readers/customers/viewers.