Let's face it, your reputation, the work you do, the products you produce, your relationships, the PR your company gets, the awards you win - these things matter much more than the number of Facebook fans you have, or Twitter followers, or even commenters...

Let's face it, your reputation, the work you do, the products you produce, your relationships, the PR your company gets, the awards you win - these things matter much more than the number of Facebook fans you have, or Twitter followers, or even commenters on a blog. The truth is that people don't discover you on social media. They discover you in real life and then seek to strike up points of connection through social media vehicles.

Once they've decided to commit to these additional forms of connection, it's your duty to provide good content, not annoy them, be genuine, and engage as possible and necessary. They may unfollow or unlike, or they may decide they enjoy your content - but that's about as far as your social media persona will go in terms of really influencing your potential clients. The best you can hope for is that it will keep your company's name (or yours) top of mind.

I can tell you that after being heavily involved in social media for several years, we have never gotten work directly from being found in these networks. We have solicited for job openings, or for feedback on blog posts, or to share good news. Yet, never has someone said, we discovered your company thanks to Twitter, and now we want to hire you. I will tell you that we've had many clients call and say they heard about us from the Webby awards, or read about us in Communication Arts. In a majority of cases though, they call and say they saw something we did, and liked it, or another company recommended us. To me, these are the best kinds of new business leads to get.

So don't get confused about how important all this social media stuff is. It's great for you to be there once someone has heard about you and wants to take the relationship to the next level, but it's the work you do in real life that matters most.

What do you think? Can social media be the first conduit in a business relationship? And for goodness sake, if you're a client and you initially learned of us through social media - let me know so I can rewrite this post! For now, this is my story and I'm sticking with it.

Share on Twitter or Facebook Published February 1st 2011