Combined with a blog, the use of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube has become the prominent online sales strategy for hundreds of thousands of online marketing hopefuls. More and more would-be marketers are flocking to these sites in an attempt to use them for all kinds of promotional purposes.In theory, it’s easy to make money using social media sites; all you have to do is pump out links and people will click and buy, right?Wrong. Here’s why:The problem with the “link and click” theory is that nearly everyone putting up these kinds of links is missing the point of social media: it’s not about buying, it’s about being social. Generally, when people are using Facebook or Twitter they’re not in buying mode; they want to relax and chill out.To make the best use of social media sites it’s essential that marketers learn how to leverage the full potential that the platforms offer. This means marketer’s MUST relegate their desire to make a sale to second place.So, what comes first? In a word, relationships.When we’re looking to solve a problem by buying a particular service or product, we are far more likely to buy from a person or a company that we feel we know, like, and trust. The key word there is “feel”.Why? Because the vast majority of our non-impulse, non-essential purchases (meaning, buying things like e-books to help us lose weight, or online courses to improve our self esteem or to help us get the perfect date) these kinds of purchases are made based on emotion, NOT for reasons of logic or out of habit.Logical or habitual purchases are things like household utilities, packs of gum, newspapers, groceries, and gasoline. They make sense (they’re logical), and we use them on a regular basis.Emotional purchases are generally driven by a deeply felt need, pain, want, or desire. Because these kinds of purchase decisions are tied to our desire or psychological need for something better, we’re more inclined to connect with a supplier or vendor that we feel understands us and our desire for change.The more we believe this connection is in our own best interests (because of the marketing messages we’re receiving and interpreting), the better we begin to feel about the product’s ability to solve our problem and the more we begin to feel that we know, like, and trust the vendor.When this happens, the combination of our desire for change and the validity of the message we’re intercepting and interpreting makes the message we’re reading, seeing, or hearing all the stickier in our mind. Sticky messages ignite the desire to connect and to relate because they build rapport. The stickier these messages become, the more they deepen and strengthen the connections between buyer and seller, which in turn reinforces the relationship.With social media, it’s possible to log onto a site and to tweet and connect all day long. But that’s a huge time sink. So what does it take to get the right people following you on social media?For some people, social media is all about how many followers, friends, or subscribers they have. But more is not really more. If you have 50,356 people following you and only 10 percent of them actually care about or are interested in what you have to offer, you’re focusing your efforts on 5,035 people while the remaining 48,321 people on your list less receptive.In this case, 80 percent of your revenue or interest is coming from 20 percent of your followers. Might it be better to ditch the bigger chunk of people and find more people that DO care about what you have to offer?If you’re going to use social media effectively, it makes far more sense to spend your time investing in people that believe in and are interested in the same things YOU’RE interested in. Having a massive crowd might look impressive, but unless a significant number of those people are tuned in to your message, much of what you’re saying is going to land on deaf ears.Why are all of these people choosing to follow you? What’s the reason that perfect strangers have such an interest in you? If you can’t answer these questions, it might be time to thin the herd so that your marketing efforts are having a more positive effect. If you don’t do this, after a while, the law of diminishing returns on your investment of time effort and energy begins to kick in, which dilutes the impact of your message. It’s far better to have 2,537 ATTUNED followers or subscribers than it is to have 56,987 vaguely, kind of interested followers or subscribers.It IS possible to make money with social media, but it’s vital that you use the platform to build effective relationships first. When you take time to build relationships social media enables you to drive larger numbers of people to your websites, blogs, or other advertising media because those people have grown to like you based on the relevance to them of the previous information you’ve passed on. This means it’s vital to focus on the relationships you’re building, and it means that it’s crucial that you focus on the quality and value of the material you’re presenting to the people you want to connect with.When it comes marketing for long term growth, the relationships you build MUST come first, NOT the sales pitch. Doing this the other way around turns you into an unwelcome pest, not a welcome guest.When you present ideas for products or services in a benefit rich, problem-solving way, social media gives you the ability to drive traffic that can ultimately lead to new streams of revenue. You simply need to understand and use a few basic techniques about relationship building. Ultimately, it’s not about you or the widget you’re offering; it’s about the widget and what that thing (or service) can do for your customer.In social media, no one knows it all. But obtaining, reading, and putting into action the techniques in one or two decent reports on social media will put you ahead of the vast majority of online marketing hopefuls. Learning and using just two or three inside tips on the workings of just one platform can set you apart from the crowd. And that’s all it takes to make the most out of social media: just knowing a little bit more than the average person.In terms of networking, making connections, and in getting your name in front of just a handful of the right people, a minor edge honed over just a few months can reap major rewards on the social media platforms you’re using.Once you begin using social media to leverage what you know by building relationships, you’ll find it works on your behalf far more effectively. This means you’ll get that much more out of it, AND you’ll become just that bit more knowledgeable. And ultimately, you’ll enjoy using it that much more.By taking the time to learn a few basics social media lessons, and by taking the time to make a few great connections, you can use social media to help you do all kinds of things. By directing traffic from social media sites to the varying sites in which you have a vested interest, you’ll begin to see results from your efforts, results that can help you generate income and connections you might not have seen.