Understanding whether your company is a momentary indulgence or a way of life will have a big impact on the channels you market through. A Twitter search for "kayak" reveals all sorts of conversation about people indulging in their favorite activity, conversation that a kayak manufacturer could participate in to become part of the community. A Twitter search for "couch," on the other hand, reveals conversation focused on laziness -- not exactly fodder for potential couch sales.
So I've come up with Kaila's Engagement Time/Channel Time Theory: If people are likely to engage with your product for a long time (kayaks), connect with them on channels where they spend a lot of time (social networks). If people are likely to make one decision about your product and not think about it again (couch), connect with them on channels where they get quick, targeted responses (search).
I've got a graph in my head. Can you see it? It's a line going up and to the right, with "product engagement time" on the Y axis and "channel session time" on the X axis.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about finding the "kitchen": the place online where people who care about what you do hang out and talk to each other. If your product is a lifestyle product, it's virtually guaranteed that there are multiple kitchens online. People will go anywhere and everywhere to discuss things they're passionate about. If your product is a momentary product, on the other hand, chances are reasonable that people don't gather to discuss it regularly. If your product is a momentary product, you don't find the kitchen; it finds you.
I'm not saying you shouldn't monitor Twitter if your business is selling couches. What I am saying is that you're unlikely to build any community momentum on Twitter, because there is no kitchen there. There are one-off people saying they're going shopping for a couch today.
Sometimes, though, you can span both the momentary and lifestyle conversations. For example, I recently did some work for a roof rack company. The actual product they sell is a momentary product; there are very few people discussing the relative merits of roof racks on Twitter or Facebook. When you're shopping for a roof rack, you're going straight to Google. But the purpose of the product is to enable better enjoyment of lifestyle activities: skiing, biking, kayaking. What makes sense for that company is to create relationships around the lifestyle -- and then to do everything they can to be top of the SERPs when people go shopping.
That company can take a cross-channel approach because they've understood that people don't buy drills, they buy holes. People don't buy roof racks, they buy a quicker and easier way to do the things they love.
Search is for the drills. Social is for the holes. Make sure you're not trying to fit a search drill into a social hole.