We all know the famous refrain from the movie, Field of Dreams—“If you build it, they will come.” What worked for Kevin Costner’s character, though, won’t necessarily work for your social media goals.

Establishing a presence on your favorite social networking site, such as Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter, doesn’t guarantee anyone will come calling, let alone the demographic you want to come calling . . . and it won’t happen overnight.

Social media success takes time, patience, and discipline. You wouldn’t expect a new acquaintance to become your best friend immediately, or to be meeting “Mom and Dad” after just one date, would you? It takes time and effort to cultivate relationships face-to-face. Building a large online network of loyal fans, followers, and connections does too.

Social media success is not only about the numbers. While it may sound impressive to boast of two thousand followers on Twitter, hundreds of “likes” on your Facebook page, or a thousand connections in your LinkedIn network, you have to ask if these are the right audience members for you/your brand.

  • Are these “fans” likely to visit your Web site or recommend you to their friends?
  • Are they even in the right demographic, age-wise, interest-wise, or income-wise?

Too often social media “posers” tell you social media success is a snap, that fans and followers are just dangling out there like a bunch of ripe bananas waiting to be picked. All you need to do is take the leap, create an account, pay them to set up a page . . . and those bananas can all be yours.

What they don’t tell you is why those particular bananas, which ones are ripe, which ones aren’t yet ripe but might be, and how best to connect with them?

  • Social media success requires the right strategy—the “what,” “why,” and “where” of what you are doing—consistent with your personal/company brand and goals.
  • Social media success requires using the right tactics—crafting your “message,” determining “how” best to implement the strategy, and actually executing the gameplan.
  • Social media success requires measuring results so you know when you’re successful—and if not, why not, and how you can adjust strategy and tactics to achieve desired results.

The bottom line is that if people aren’t calling, if people aren’t visiting your Web site, then your social media efforts aren’t working. Counting “likes” and “followers” is important—such analytics are a vital piece of the puzzle—but what’s most important are the number of people who hire you, buy your product, or recommend you to their friends.

Where are you with your social media efforts? What’s your experience been? Share your thoughts here.