For commercial organizations, social media programmes must lead (eventually) to sales.
(For political parties they must lead to votes, and for non-profits, to donations or memberships.)
The speed at which you close the sale will vary prospect to prospect, and you can accelerate this “speed-to-close” by having a clear social media strategy:
Define clearly what it is you want to discover from your customers and prospects.
Go to the social web and systematically discover who is saying what about your brands, products, services, and corporate reputation. Remember that those commentating may not actually mention your brand by name.
Systematically link this information with your back-room databases of customers and prospects.
Interpret which comments come from customers, which from prospects, which come from people you already know, which from those you should know, and which you should act upon.
Research and define criteria that trigger sales leads from those freely expressing a desire to engage through the social web.
Once you have followed these five steps, you can market, sell and make money.