It comes down to this: make an amazing product, people will buy it. Think LuluLemon and their yoga pants which any woman will SWEAR takes ten pounds off...yoga culture be damned. Think Starbucks, the company I hate to love: Absolute consistency in product, service, atmosphere. It's just smart.
Have all the fans, contests, games and apps you want. A bad business will fail because people talk. Word of mouth is still word of mouth; social media has just amplified the review.
I'm reading a Harvard Business Review social media series and an article (Dec 2010) on the updated "consumer funnel" and it's a load of B.S. I choose restaurants differently than cars and skincare. There is no formula that fits all buying decisions, or all consumers, in all cases.
Being smart with social media is no different than being smart in direct mail, on TV or on a billboard: Get attention, make a compelling promise and then - here's the tough part - DELIVER THE G-D promise! This is where companies DON'T invest. They hire the cheapest talent they can and don't invest in those folks. They cut corners and then wonder why people bad mouth them on social media.
Rather than spending gzillions on a slick campaign, just keep your word. And invest in world-class talent who will help you keep your word.
Now pass it on.