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?