Social Media is Not a Selling Forum

in Social Media Marketing

Many retailers have indicated that they plan to promote and sell their merchandise via social media sites this holiday season.  Most people don’t join or participate in social media networking so that someone can sell something to them.  People join social media networking sites to socialize, connect with friends or business associates, discuss topics of common interest, share experiences, and be part of a community they choose to be associated with.

Most people are online to learn, do research, get information, have fun, be entertained, pass time, socialize, express themselves or advocate for a cause or interest.  People only go online 31% of the time with the intent to shop according to a survey by Ruder Finn.  See the Capitalizing on why people are online article for more details on how and why people spend time online.

It will be interesting to see how various retailers approach prospective buyers on social media sites to sell their wares this holiday season.

Social media is not an Outbound Marketing Channel.
Retailers typically use outbound marketing channels such as TV commercials, print advertising, radio, direct mail, email blasts, etc. to reach prospective buyers.  It’s the traditional push style of marketing that uses intrusion and interruption tactics to broadcast messages to the masses to attract the attention of those who may have a need for what they’re selling.  Retailers who plan to use outbound marketing methods for social media will get disappointing results and annoy or possibly alienate prospective buyers.

Social Media is an Inbound Marketing Channel.
Inbound marketing is a pull style of marketing focused on providing information and resources to help prospective buyers find what they need and help them make a good decision when they’re ready buy.  Typical inbound marketing channels are websites, search engines, blogs, social media sites, videos, etc. Inbound marketing is about creating a presence and positioning for a business/product/service/solution for buyers to find what they need.

Social media should not be viewed as another way to sell stuff – people on social networking sites don’t want to be sold to.  Social media should be viewed from a buyer’s perspective – people on social networking sites may appreciate availability of information and resources to help them find and decide what they need to buy.

How to use this information to benefit your business

  • If you plan to use social media sites to promote sales of your product/service/solution, don’t do it by just reusing existing outbound advertising materials in this channel.
  • Target relevant social media communities.  For example, Facebook provides many ways to analyze and subset a relevant target audience, Twitter followers are self-selected based on interest, and blog readers are self-selected based on the blog area of focus.
  • Provide information and resources in the buyer’s context.  Don’t overtly sell something, rather think about how you can help buyers find what they need and make an informed buying decision.
  • Since you are able to target specific audiences with social media marketing, consider tailoring your information and communications to each targeted group.  Speak to the issues and concerns of the specific audiences you are targeting.
  • Track activity and analyze metrics to determine how to tune and improve response and conversion rates.

Copyright © 2009 Ingistics LLC and Marketance™

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