Patrick Schwerdtfeger's profitable online practices keynote makes the distinction between the social media practices of companies that are simply being social and those that are converting conversations into profit.
Schwerdtfeger asserts that conversations are markets and to access these markets, companies have to be part of the conversation. That means participating in and leading conversations online, because that is where people are looking nowadays. He gives an example of a Harry Potter movie launch that started with a web conference at midnight with seven influential bloggers. A day later, the news had reached over 350 million people.
Schwerdtfeger says companies have to find the conversation and then participate in it. Participating in the conversation builds awareness, which is the first step in successful social media strategies in business. The awareness builds interest and interest leads to demand.