When I talk with people about using social media for marketing, I have compared traditional marketing to the loud and obnoxious guy at a party who just wants to talk about himself and all the great things he has accomplished (you may recall I have also used this analogy for companies that use Twitter but don't follow other Twitterers--this is consistent as those companies are trying to force traditional marketing methods on social media).
Social media is more like Keith Ferrazzi might be at a party. He takes time to get to know people and learns what really makes them tick. He listens to their goals and dreams--and then offers to help them achieve them.
This video, which I saw via The Altimeter by Charlene Li this morning, uses another great analogy: the break-up. Take a look. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you might even understand social media and its benefits just a little bit better.