It feels like everyone in the social universe has something for sale.
- Attend my Twitter Chat
- Subscribe to my blog
- Purchase my book
- Like my Facebook page
While I am certain (certainly cynical) that every one of these chats , blogs, books, and pages are the single most informative, game changing, and perhaps life altering ways that a person could spend their time, I am beginning to question when Social Media platforms turned into other more intrusive marketing methods?
May I ask… when is it appropriate to revisit the rules of professional selling or perhaps just civility?
Social Media Isn’t Advertising is it?
Over the past few months as more and more companies and sole proprietors have embraced social as a method for customer acquisition, with this I have also seen an escalating trend of companies mistaking social platforms for (unpaid) advertising.
- Tweets linked to “Buy My …Whatever it is I’m selling.”
- DM’s to every new follower with a hard close (Following you doesn’t directly correlate with the fact that we want to buy whatever you are selling, it is more of a “hey, we’d like to know more)
- Linked In messages with a “Deal” for something you didn’t ask for.
With this proverbial flurry of fire-bombs trying to sell your me-too service, book, or gadget, the Social Universe is becoming increasingly like the coupon section of the Sunday paper. The biggest difference is people went to the ads section of the Sunday paper on purpose rather than now where we go to a social platform to share and communicate only to be bombarded with spam.
If Social Media and Advertising were the same thing then wouldn’t they have just called it Advertising?
Yes Law Of Averages, but Not Direct Marketing
Even today direct mail from our favorite retailers as well as complete unknowns still shows up in our mailbox. Similar electronic versions flood our email boxes. Now this method has invaded social.
While it may not get full attribution rights, it seems that direct mail may have something to do with the “Hit ‘Em All” approach that we see in the social sphere. Somewhere along the line it was decided by many Social Marketers that If we just send a flyer to everyone (Tweet, FB Request, LI Message) then we should get some level of conversion. The law of averages absolutely ring true in sales and marketing. After all you won’t ever get a sale that you don’t ask for. However, if your method of selling is purely spamming every person that you come in contact with, you will never be more than a spammer.
Social Selling Requires Trust
What strikes me as even more ironic is the amount of spammy selling being performed by self-proclaimed sales and marketing gurus who promise to show you the way to sales success and enlightenment. If I was to attend a sales conference and the expert told me that my first move is to walk into the prospects office and plop a contract on their desk, I would be alarmed.
Anyone that has carried a bag knows that you can’t just walk up to people on the street and ask them to buy from you and expect any level of success. A sale (tangible or intangible) always begins with a relationship, which leads to a level of trust, which ultimately leads to the discovery of an opportunity to engage in a transaction of equal benefit for all parties involved.
“Social” Brands: Quit Throwing Up On Me
Nobody goes on Twitter looking to buy your e-book. Even if I was to follow you or like something you shared, it is hardly me saying “Yes, please! Let me have what you are selling.” Rather it is me saying, “Okay, you appear to be interesting, allow me to find out more.” Further it would generally be preferred that I can learn more without massive intrusion into my life.
People are savvy consumers and while they probably won’t find you if they don’t know they are looking for you, the key is to build bridges that create roadways that lead to open doors (Network).
Unfortunately if your version of networking is merely throwing up your pitch on anyone that you think may be listening (They Probably Are Not) then you most likely are going to struggle to get introductions let alone sales.
If Social Media isn’t just selling, what should we do?
Success will and should be recognized differently by everyone. However, I do recommend a return to the more human side of selling and engagement.
Sales on any platform has rules. The first of those rules is that without trust, there is very little chance a sale will take place. So if what you are selling is more than a mere commodity than the approach must be built to match. Try to imagine a real in person engagement. If you wouldn’t approach the in person sale the way you are doing it in Social Media then you may be doing it wrong.
If Marketing is your goal then know your channels. Social is the information sharing and engagement channel that lives in cooperation (and sometimes disdain) with advertising. Being on the social networks allows you a chance to obtain real feedback from real customers via real interaction. So make sure that the efforts put into these networks enables this rather than alienates those that may be interested in your offering.
While I stand by my belief that there is no one right way to do “Social,” I do believe there are some wrong ways. Let’s keep Social about learning, sharing, and engaging, and leave the spam and advertising where they belong…elsewhere.