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Would you rather be rich or famous?  Happy or popular?  Healthy or beautiful?  Every one is a trick question – why can’t we have both (or all) of the options?  While outwardly we may pick the answer that is more accepted by the public – rich, happy and healthy – most times people crave famous, popular, and beautiful.

Now take a step back and think of your business.  Would you rather have your business be profitable or popular?  Much of what companies do in social media is aimed at becoming popular.  If your Facebook page has more ‘likes’ and fans, you can be popular.  If more people follow you on Twitter or YouTube, you can be popular.  If you have more subscribers and comments on your blog, you can be popular.

We know it’s exciting to be popular, especially in social media and networking platforms.  You have a bigger megaphone and a higher soapbox.  ‘Internet famous‘ people mention you or add you to their very small list of connections.  Maybe you are even invited to conferences to speak.  Chris Brogan, C.C. Chapman and Brian Solis like you, they really really LIKE you…

But are these things making you profitable?  Sometimes they do.  Most times they don’t.  After the initial quick hit of ‘friending’ you have to provide constant quality content in order to keep the attention of those you’ve wooed.  It takes a considerable amount of time to develop trust and relationships that lead to profits.  Being popular on social media networks has hardly ever lead to profits without a plan.

Instead of worrying about the easy things like the numbers of fans, followers, friends, hits, and click-throughs you get, think about attracting the right audience in the first place.  Operating in a frantic mode to acquire higher numbers for the sake of more numbers produces short-term success.  Why not focus on producing the very best content to attract and keep the types of people that will best lead to profits for your company?  With focus your job gets easier, you become more efficient, and your efforts will produce more results.  The climb may seem a bit slower, but it will be build on a solid foundation of people that are genuinely interested in what you have to say and offer.  With that comes profits.

Profits don’t always have to tie directly back to money, but can translate to other measurable items like downloads of a whitepaper, signups for a webinar, opt-ins for a email newsletter, and yes, even a new customer.  Of course you need to know what you want out of the system before you start on the journey and keep focused on the long term.

Now of course if your company enjoys popularity on social media outlets, you need to figure out how to convert that into profits before your audience moves on to the next hot thing – or your competition.  Have you figured out a way to pull out those people that can turn into customers while still keeping the general public feed, cared for, and entertained?  It is a difficult task without a plan.

The lesson here?  Being popular sure is nice, but without profits to back it up, your 15 minutes of Internet fame are almost up.