It almost sounds like a dichotomy. Selling and social are often regarded as polar opposites. For the truly successful brands they know social, marketing and selling all work together. Although I may change the word selling for the word buying but the title would not be as easily understood.
Success doesn't really live on a whiteboard
Let me clarify the use of the word buying versus the word selling. Old school sales training usually included the phrases, “stop selling when they start buying”, “if you’re still selling they aren’t yet buying”, “you can’t take any orders while you’re selling”, and other equally termed phrases. So to say “social selling” really could have a negative connotation while “social buying” does not. We can thank, in part, Tupperware and Mary Kay Ash for introducing us to the in-home sales party.
Today’s social environment can change with the wind. In the morning everyone can be energized by the previous night’s Idol finale and by afternoon be outraged over the invasion of one country by another. Gone are the days of isolated pockets of information and reverberation and welcome the Jungian collective consciousness at the speed of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, EmpireAvenue, and the list grows on.
There is a psychology and a science to being a transactional force in the social space. We know this from years of experience beginning in the 80’s en mass, with what is now universally referred to as “spam”. It is called spam because, like the product it is named for, it does not contain exactly what you were expecting. In the early days the online community was brutal. If a member posted their email address or contact information (there were no websites at the time) in a forum of any kind other than porn and dating they were instantly hailed upon with great verbal force and generally suspended (kicked) or banned by the SysOp for that group never to be allowed to participate again.
The social space was much smaller and tighter knit in those days. As BBS and CompuServe gave way to IRC, Prodigy and AOL things began to change. The runup to the blossoming of the World Wide Web in the mid 90’s was an amazing explosion to experience. During these times spam became UCE, Unsolicited Commercial Email, and spammers went to court and even jail for wire fraud and other charges of evil doing. It was all a part of the growth process which we are still in the very earliest pioneering of. We’re still an embryo.
Today, 2011, I can touch millions of people from a device that fits in my pocket and downloads data as quickly as my home PC … which I unplugged over two years ago. I can create content, just like this article, and host online video conferences without any wires connected to any devices. We can all turn on our video feed and have a live conference with audio and video for pennies – something which once carried a price-tag unreachable by even some mid-sized businesses and was out of the question for small businesses.
Now we have Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn, and have recently added EmpireAvenue to the mix. The social space is expanding at a speed before unknown in the growth of any movement or organization. You can announce a tweetup in 4 hours at a local restaurant in almost any city of size and have a dozen or more people show up. You can announce a free concert by a local favorite band and 24 hours later sell it out. You can post a video of a cat hugging a kitten and in 24 hours it will have been viewed by over 1,000,000 people. That’s million in the event you are numerically challenged.
So what are some of the important points of selling in the social space?
Be genuine – people can smell a fake and if they stepped in it first you can still suffer the modern version of stoning.
Be regular but not predictable – especially if you have a podcast or YouTube channel and want to develop a loyal following stay on schedule.
Know your core values both personally and corporately – if you know who you are and what you stand for it’s hard to forget or be led off topic. If you are an airline you fly people and stuff around the nation or world and you don’t dabble in hydroponic gardening.
Stay with what you know – I may ask a question about thermonuclear energy but you won’t see me posting any blog articles about how the release of sub-atomic particles is safe for naked humans unless I’m giving my very shaky view on the topic.
Inspire others to engage – people like to share their knowledge and experience so making a statement generally does not inspire as many as asking a question. For example very few people will comment on this blog post yet if I do a poll on Facebook and ask which of these points are most important in social selling several people will respond.
Respond to criticisms with care – we all are criticized. Sometimes it’s a troll (someone just causing mischief or attacking you to make their life somehow better) and sometimes it is a genuine complaint as in United Breaks Guitars. In this era of social equity playing an important role suing someone with the “sue first, talk later” attitude (see the Real Estate Zebra story) can cost you a tremendous amount of social equity.
Get professional help – in certain circles everyone tends to think they are social media experts/specialists/gurus just because they have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, and a blog. Forget that they can’t tell you which SEO function is more important or how Page Rank pass-through affects inbound links or even how to calculate the reach and response value of a tweet. Come to think of it they have no idea what is the best time to tweet for their personal needs and will regurgitate the “Friday from 3PM to 8PM” they heard at their last conference. (My best time, at the moment, to get retweets is Sunday from 8AM to 3PM and that’s not a guess).
Spend $37.50 and register early for Success Social Selling. If you think it was not worth the cost email me and I’ll refund your money no questions asked, 100% if, and only if, you register through this link.