Elton Digital has a story looking at social media mistakes to try and avoid and I think this point recognizing the need for a dialogue with your followers and friends is essential:
At the heart of social media is the ability for ‘connected’ users to engage in 2-sided conversations. In fact, this is the primary draw of social networking websites: they allow you to share information, ideas, pictures, etc, with people whom you may not physically see or speak to in person very often (or, not at all), and reciprocally, enable them to provide feedback on your interests, while sharing those of their own.
Brands should be involved in social networks in a similar manner; while it’s fine for them to share their own information, if they are not reciprocating with their fan base, it’s a good chance that those fans won’t stick around for very long. While it’s not expected that brands answer every message they receive or directly comment on every one of their fans’ pages, it will go a long way for the success of your social media platform to occasionally, at least, ensure that you are showing that you are indeed engaged with your audience.
I also agree with their assessment at the end of the story:
I personally think every brand, both large and small, should have a presence within social media; as long as it is done in the correct manner, and not mistaken for ‘just another advertising opportunity’. While marketing is of course the objective, advertisers need to keep in mind that social networks are an entirely different space than other forms of mass communication, & need to be treated as such.
Often times, advertisers, businesses, campaigns and organizations find this new shiny social media tool and want to spam the people following them hoping to get a quick return. The true value of social media is realized by cultivating your audience and engaging to create a positive reputation for your brand. The long term benefits have the potential to far exceed the short term gain, but patience is required.