Hosptial administrators never have to worry that the ER will be short of "customers." And if you're a brain surgeon who specializes in operating on rare tumors, your "customers" will find you. In fact, when I was recently speaking with a long time OBGYN, she told me that she had never heard the term "search engine optimization."
Unfortunately, most of us aren't so specialized that people will do business with us regardless of our networking and advertising efforts. That's not saying we aren't great at what we do; it has always been my goal to be at the top of the copywriting industry. But I also know I'm competing against junior copywriters who are willing to charge less to get a foot in the door, folks in India who charge pennies on the dollar for their SEO writing and potential clients' friends and neighbors who kind of, sort of write a little.
I truly think some industries, including emergency and specialized healthcare, will still be very lucrative even without advertising of any sort (much less social media marketing). Any professional or company that is so highly specialized with a service or product that people have to have will do good business. The inner networking in such industries insures that "go-to" professionals or companies are very well known and recommended by key players (ex. other doctors, high level industry professionals, etc.).
But, by and large, most of us have to distinguish ourselves in an ever-growing pool of competition. The competition doesn't necessarily have to be better than you, but if your competitors advertise, network or create a better public image than you, they may be honing in on business that could be yours.
My advice is that unless you are in one of these highly specialized fields, you should take the time to get acquainted with social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Just having a general knowledge of these mediums will allow you to have intelligent conversations with others at networking opportunities. You don't have to become an expert is all things Facebook or Twitter, but you should understand the significance of social media in business today. It's not going away; in fact, its reach is only expanding, and I'm certain that new "social media" will crop up in future days, as well.
I encourage you not to be frightened of diving into the social media pool; it's easy to get started and well worth your time. So quit waiting around for this social media craze to die off.
Unless you're an ER nurse or neurosurgeon.