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Why you don’t need to sell on social media

Friday, 23 August 2013 | By Cas McCullough

When you first start a business, it’s tempting to want to shout out to the roof tops about your amazing new product or service, but did you know that self-promotion on social media can backfire in a big way?


Here are a few things I’ve noticed businesses doing that tend to backfire:


1. Visiting someone’s page and asking them to share your page


When you visit someone’s shop, do you ask them to put an ad in their window advertising your shop? Well, no. So, when you visit someone’s page, treat it like it’s someone else’s shop.


If you stick around, contribute to conversations and are helpful, you will be more likeable and people will want to share about you, but if you ask to be promoted when there’s no established relationship in place, your efforts will likely result in the opposite happening. In other words, people will like you less and will be less likely to want to share about you.


The problem is that many businesses have a very short-term view of social media marketing. However, I’d encourage you to think longer term, think relationships and think trust. We don’t trust people overnight. It takes time. The same is the case in social media marketing.


2. Message people on their personal profiles with a sales offer


Pure and simple, this is spam. I once accidentally posted an event to my friend list (before I knew what I was doing with Facebook events) and was mortified because I know how irritating it is to get junk mail in your Facebook inbox.


Some businesses I know thank new likers for liking their page, and perhaps that’s okay but any more than a simple “thank you” could lead to a spam complaint, so it pays to be careful and considerate in the social space, especially when it comes to personal profiles.


3. Manipulating conversation threads for your own gain.


From time to time I’ve seen “helpful” posts in Facebook groups that are thinly veiled promotions. On first glance it might appear the person is being helpful from the heart, and then they’ll turn around and say something like: “look at me, look at me, look at how wonderful I am. For my latest, greatest deal, click here!” Yuck!


If you’re going to be helpful, just be helpful. Don’t think about how you can turn every social media post into a promotional opportunity. It’s okay to share good news and it’s okay to offer assistance when someone’s asked, but you can showcase your expertise without being sneaky. Be upfront, act with integrity and you won’t lose.


Consumers these days are really tuned into what’s real and genuine and what’s not. If you are constantly focusing on yourself and trying to get your sales messages in front of people all the time without building the relationships first, you’ll probably not experience the success you are after.


On your own page is the place to promote your services but even then, mix it up with posts that are purely designed to help others, share resources and have fun.


One of the best posts I’ve seen on Facebook was a ‘guess how many lollies in the lolly jar competition’ (on the Queensland Business Facebook Group last week, in fact). Engagement with that post skyrocketed. Why? Because it was fun and there was no agenda attached to it other than to create a fun experience for group members.


So next time you want to post on Facebook or Twitter, have a think about how you come across. Are you trying to help people and get to know others or is it all about you? If the latter, then your efforts on social media may be backfiring.