In some cases, these social media connections have real world implications. Protesters may meet up online before taking their pitckforks to the townhall debates. Media coverage of a viral campaign might affect whether consumers hold their brand allegiances.
However, it's worth asking whether most of these efforts amount to anything more than "slacktivism," defined as "feel-good online activism that has zero political or social impact." It's nice to have virtual fans supporting your cause or company. But ultimately, social media platforms should serve as tools that help you achieve specific objectives. Are you really converting these connections into cash?