One of the common statements made about social media is:
Social media is not for selling.
The conventional wisdom is that while traditional media channels are OK for a sales pitch, social media really isn’t. In fact, when I work with clients and speak to groups, there’s a good chance they’ll hear me say,
“No one wants to be sold to.”
And in a sense, that is true. We both actively and passively tune out the thousands of marketing and advertising messages with which we are confronted each day. Ads and commercials are seen as interruptions and intrusions on our lives. And with social media that becomes even more of a problem. We expect ads on traditional media channels. Television and radio commercials are the norm. We know that we’ll see ads on the highway, or in magazines or newspapers. We understand that it’s part of the price we pay.
But on social media, we are there to be social. To connect with friends and family, and yes, even businesses. But on our own terms.
Having said that, it is possible to sell on social media, you just have to be careful how you do it. The other day I saw the following item in my Facebook news feed, and thought it was an appropriate means of using social to sell:
My friend Dave Warren of Dave’s Ace Hardware out in Wisconsin took to Facebook in his usual personable way. He used a bit of humor, and the impending snow storm, to get rid of the last snow blower he had in stock. I’m guessing that this might have been his last chance before having to go with a deep discount, or mothball it until next winter. And sure enough, within a short period of time he had gotten several calls and the snowblower was out the door.
It’s not that you can’t use social media for selling, you just have to be careful how you do it. It’s all in your approach. In this case, Dave had a need and figured that at least one of his customers could help him out and meet their own need: snow removal. It worked. And a big part of this is Dave’s personality and demeanor; people don’t mind the occasional sales pitch from Dave because they like him based on how he presents himself regularly, both online and in person.
A lot of it depends on your business category. For those in the entertainment and hospitality industries, it’s not only acceptable to sell, it’s expected. If you own a restaurant, tell us about your specials for the day. We want that. If you are a movie theater or entertainment complex, tell us what’s playing and when. We want that. We don’t really view that as “selling.”
In fact, much of this comes down to what our definition of “selling” might be. I firmly believe that providing good customer service and experience online is a form of marketing and a form of selling. Remember, not all sales tactics require a blatant call to action. Not all sales tactics involve showcasing a specific product and asking people to buy it, though Dave shows that that can be done in a very tasteful way.
Truth be told, the social eco-system does a pretty good job of policing itself. Those who sell too much or too hard will hear about it from their customers, either directly with real feedback, or indirectly with a drop in numbers.
- 5 Steps to Making a Sale Through Social Media (forbes.com)
- Companies are Diving into Social Media Everyday, But are Their Efforts Effective? (prweb.com)
- We’re Drowning In Marketing (soulati.com)
- Report: What CEOs Think of Social Media (v3im.com)