Funny thing about actively selling your product/service/brand through social media, it doesn’t work. Nope. Don’t even try. Get that idea out of your head right now.

Think about this instead. 

Imagine yourself at a party with hundreds of other people around. If you don’t like parties, imagine yourself in a pub at a table with your closest friends. Don’t like pubs? Then let’s go to a business luncheon at your local chamber of commerce. It really doesn’t matter where you are, just picture yourself in one of these places. Now, would you start off the conversation by going, “Hi! I’m the CEO of ACME and I sell Widgets!” What if someone said that to you? What would your reaction be? Complete turn-off! What if they then turned around to someone else and repeated what you said? I think the reaction would be, “Who cares?”

Now, let’s change it around a bit. Let’s say the conversation starts off like this, ” Hi! I’m Donna. What’s your name and what do you do? What are you working on?” More than likely that conversation will go a lot farther than the first one. You have engaged the other person into the conversation by focusing the topic back on him/her, their favorite topic! 

Take it a few steps further. You’ll probably be listening intently (or not) to their response and then come up with something witty to say. Your conversation may then move to a recent movie they saw or a favorite sports team. The most important thing here is that you’re actively listening. Once they get their story out, it will, naturally, be your turn to talk. 

This is exactly the way good conversations go in social media. Yes, people talk about what they do or their recent accomplishments, but they don’t talk about them all the time. The conversation should be about the people you’re talking to and not yourself. Building trust and authenticity leads to connection and engagement. Engagement will more than likely lead to a new sale.

One Response to Why Actively Selling Products/Services Via Social Media Doesn’t Work

  1. Evolving Squid
    May 27, 2009

    >>Let’s say the conversation starts off like this, ” Hi! I’m Donna. What’s your name and what do you do? What are you working on?”

    Mostly likely the response would be “who are you and why are you butting in to my conversation?” unless the scenario was taking place at some kind of meat-market pickup joint. If Donna starts flogging a product related to what we were talking about, most people are going to try and feel out whether or not Donna is some kind of rep for that company. Even if she takes a soft approach, the basic questions of “why is this person here? What do they want? Why are we selected out of the crowd?” will need to be answered. There will be suspicion… People just don’t come up to you and start talking like they’re your buddy.

    The reaction from there may vary. If the scene is business related (like a chamber of commerce meeting) it might be tolerated – perhaps even appreciated. If the scene is social, Donna is not going to be well received in all likelihood, even if she happens to share some of the same hobbies or interests at the people she’s talking to.

    Everyone knows at least one person who works in sales. Nobody wants that person flogging their work in most social settings. The advent of social media absolutely does not change that. And why should it? If marketers make efforts to intrude, the public will evolve defences against those intrusions.

    To me, I appreciate a sales person that makes an effort to be knowledgeable and trustworthy, not sneaky and intrusive. I want them to be available for me, not the other way around. That’s where I think social media will take marketing – people will require that companies be available for them, and will reject pushy techniques.

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