...one of the most interesting parts of engaging in social media is how you can measure just about everything that you do. The real challenge, of course, is to determine the meaning behind those numbers.
The short answer is -it depends on your goal. In today's linking landscape it's important to secure links from high quality sites, and/or those in your niche for maximum ranking impact. Getting links from places like CNN and The Huffington Post are also great provided they aren't dynamic. But if you're looking to generate eyeballs and traffic, then general links in massive quantities are fine, it should be easy to determine their effectiveness.
Here's another comment Jonathan made:
… another principle strategy of ours: connecting with people where they are rather than making find us. ...Rather than force people to come to our site ... we’re happy to ind them where they’re already engaged and introduce them to the Conservancy in venues of their choice.
He then went on to comment on some specific tactics/sites the Nature Conservancyy was using:
I routinely bookmark and comment on environmental news, green blogs, and stories about sustainability and alternative energy technology. One of our foremost social media strategies is to try to link to and promote as many stories as possible outside of our own site.
.... with Digg visitors, these folks just viewed the landing page and most of them immediately left without viewing any other pages. But that’s OK, because our popularity on Digg drove in 50+ links from blogs, including a few elite sources like The Huffington Post and Cisco.com, and also caused “spillover” popularity into other social news networks. The real value from this particular success on Digg wasn’t so much the initial spike in traffic, but the increased SEO positioning and second wave of visitors coming from blogs and other sites.
I turn to Twitter to publicize my social media campaigns, usually the ones on Digg. ... a handful of friends following these tweets ... actually click through and vote on the stories. Twitter, Pownce, even IM can be used to draw people into your campaigns...
Cherry picking links is still a good idea, you target what you want and what you know you need. Social media is good for spreading the word while attracting links in the process. The links are less targeted but no less efficient or important to your overall inbound link graph. Successful link building is about blending both and loving the results.