Effective Selling Using Social Media

transparency in social mediaLet’s face facts- the reason many business owners are interested in social media marketing and are Twitterpated by Twitter is not that they’re anxious to make a “connection” with potential customers but rather that they’re anxious to close sales.

For example, most business owners who are “hot” to learn more about Twitter,  have heard the tales of how Dell uses Twitter to close millions of dollars in sales.  As a result, most businesses are interested in using Twitter to boost their bottom line in a similar fashion.

The problem is, many businesses are so focused on making a sale today that they fail to recognize that closing sales in the new millennium requires establishing a significant amount of TRUST!!

Trust isn’t earned in a single “transaction”.

Social media is a GREAT tool to build trust – but in order to do so, you must first be trustworthy!!!   In my post The REAL reasons why you should be using “social media” I state that:

The REAL reason you need to be using  [insert social media application of choice] is to establish TRUST with other human beings.

Trust – trust is the foundation of making sales in the new millennium.

Social media is as viral as it is transparent.  Just try being less than “authentic”  in the realm of social media and you’ll quickly discover how brutal the new social media based web can be.

My favorite illustrations of this principle are still Cash4Gold Social Media Meltdown and the Belkin Social Media Payola Scandal which both CLEARLY illustrate that when it comes to Social Media Marketing – authenticity is essential because transparency is not optional.

However, when you’re authentic – when you’re really serious about providing a product or service that addresses a customer’s GDP (Goals, Desires and Problems – you’re either trying to help them Achieve a Goal, Satisfy a Desire or Solve a Problem – learn more in my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results) then the new web – the social media web – can truly be the best thing since sliced bread for your business.

See, if your business model is based on “people are idiots – and easily parted with their hard earned cash” then you’re going to HATE the new web.  You’re going to HATE how people can share their experiences with your company.  You’re going to HATE how transparent and viral the new web is.

However, if your business model is based on truly meeting the needs of your customers or clients – well, then be prepared to work a little harder up front in building trust – because there are a lot of “slimy SOB’s” (that’s straight out of an email from a new client this morning) out there claiming to do what you say you do.  However, you can also be prepared to start getting new business falling into your lap thanks to the new web.

In her post “Selling isn’t Selling Anymore” Betsy Wuebker writes:

The masters of sales psychology […] have routinely stressed building rapport, listening skills, problem-solving, and other relationship-builders are a better path . The funny thing is, when you employ relationship-builders they – wait for this – build relationships. You become a colleague by virtue of the relationship you’ve cultivated. You don’t need to consciously ABC because you’re trusted. Trust will close the sale for you every time.

That’s part of the “magic” of social media.  Social media tools such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook are great ways to build trust with potential customers or clients.  Trust is the big kahuna – the big wave – the success maker.

Thanks to social media, I find I don’t spend very much time at all in “closing” new clients on my services.  They’re “pre-closed” thanks to my social media presence. It’s a beautiful thing – but it didn’t happen by writing 2 or 3 blog posts and then sitting back and waiting for my email to fill with client requests!!!

If you read the last line and thought “Doh!” then please, feel free to contact me about working together.  See, the 7th layer of hell in my business are the clients who expect to write two or three blog posts and then magically find those precious blog posts gaining top 10 SERPS on highly competitive keywords.

Social media doesn’t work like that.  Building trust doesn’t work like that.  If you can’t summon more than 2 or 3 blog posts on the topic which you claim “expert” status – perhaps you don’t deserve the “trust” of potential clients.

In the blog post Gain Readers by Selling Yourself, Barbara Swafford tells the tale of the days when she was employed to reach out and connect with customers – a.k.a. telemarketing.  She ends the post with a poignant admonition:

Today’s Lesson

For our blog to succeed, we must sell it. And, in selling our blog, we are also selling ourselves.

Yes indeedy doody.  Social media is ALL about selling ourselves.   You might think you work with “corporations” but trust me, you don’t.  You are an individual who works with other individuals employed by corporations.  Jason Cohen writes about this subject in his post “How to get customers to love you even when you screw up” and he writes:

If you pretend to be something you’re not, they’ll see right through it. Then what have you done? You’ve lied to those who would have loved you for who you are; that’s not how you build a relationship.

Relationships and trust are the KEY elements in social media marketing.

If there is any  “magic” in social media it is brought to the table – BY YOU!

Social Media Marketing can’t be “pre-packaged” and “canned”.  That’s not how social media works.

Years ago, when businesses started pre-packaging and mass delivering canned email marketing messages without any attempt to engage the end user or build trust – well, it quickly got dubbed as “spam”.

There are tons of tools being promoted to help you pre-package your social media messages.  Trust me, none of them will work nearly as well as sharing your true and authentic self.  That’s how you build relationships and trust that are essential to creating an effective sales tool.


  1. Great point about a single transaction not being a “relationship.”

    Nor is a torrent of “transactions” (tweets, whatever) that are low-quality or off-topic.

    Both of these mistakes happen all the time. :-/ Why can’t people understand that this is still HUMAN BEINGS talking to each other?

    Jason Cohens last blog post..How to get customers who love you even when you screw up

  2. 100% with you. Trust is a bestseller. Build trust first. Win heart the mind will follow. Thanks for the pointer to Betsy’s – I have read it and enjoyed it a lot

    Alik Levin | PracticeThis.coms last blog post..What Your Kid Knows About Creativity

  3. Hi Kathy – Thanks for the link! You write: Social media is ALL about selling ourselves. You might think you work with “corporations” but trust me, you don’t. Exactly. And you might think you’re selling web design or copywriting or mousetraps or – haha – pest control, but you’re kidding yourself. I’ll never forget a comment interchange on another blog to that effect. I couldn’t figure out before then why a couple of the commenters came off as, shall we say, less than authentic. As you say, that’ll only get you so far, and that’s okay if that’s all you want to get. 🙂

    Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..HE IS RISEN

  4. Kathy,

    This is a great post! It’s perfect for me to understand more about social networking, particularly Twitter. Sometimes when I’m on Twitter, I feel like I’m shouting in a large room where everyone else is also shouting. It’s hard for me to see the value…

    But this changes when I think about the fact that I’m building relationships and trust over time. I can understand this and, thanks to you, perhaps be a bit more patient as I write about my life in 141 characters:~)

    Saras last blog post..Story Photo Challenge: What is this flower saying?

  5. Great post. Small businesses have an opportunity to build their brands with social media. It’s important for business owners to realize that this doesn’t happen overnight or with a short burst of tweets. Effective branding requires establishing emotional association or connection with customers.

    I like your reference to trust. Trust is a huge pillar to branding and strong branding will in turn generate sales. Begin with a plan of establishing trust in mind and you’re well on your way to having an effective social media plan.

    Tim Andrens last blog post..Be a business black belt

  6. this is a very interesting article and it actually makes me feel as though using twitted and facebook is worth it. Thanks

  7. Hi Kathy. “Yes indeedy doody.” 😉 I want to say something profound here, but I’ve got nothing. All I know is, the less I know or am able to connect with someone, the more zipped up that wallet stays.

    I guess it works with ourselves too you know (hey here is something profound after all); when we’re not honest with ourselves we usually end up buying something that we don’t need or we end up returning it.

    Davinas last blog post..The Morning Muse — Photo Story

  8. Hi Kathy – First, thank you for the link love. I truly appreciate it.

    I like how said, “There are tons of tools being promoted to help you pre-package your social media messages.Trust me, none of them will work nearly as well as sharing your true and authentic self.”

    It makes me wonder if some think just because they are online and can’t be seen, they can just outsource that part of their business. Unfortunately, as we know, the world wide web is actually quite small, and if word ever got out “they” are not who they claim to be, we would have a hayday on every social networking site exposing them for who they are.

  9. Amelia Search Engine Optimisation says:

    All this seems like common sense to me, but it is actually a very difficult thing to do! You don’t need to invest a lot of money in social media but hours upon hours of your time, I can see that many small to medium businesses just don’t have this. It may mean changing the traditional methods of closing sales, gaining sales, advertising etc, and many struggling small/medium businesses will be frightened to do this, especially in this current economic climate.

  10. Once again, the best content on this blog is contained within the comments section!!! Thanks to EVERYONE for your great input!!!

    Jason – A hearty amen to “Why can’t people understand that this is still HUMAN BEINGS talking to each other?”

    Alik- Also loving “Win heart the mind will follow.

    Betsy – Isn’t it AMAZING how easy it is to spot someone being “inauthentic” in the new “social” media? I personally LOVE IT!

    Sara – GREAT ANALOGY for Twitter. It does kind of feel like you’re in a “hog calling” contest – trying to see who can yell the loudest – or perhaps the most.

    Barbara – I think the “they can’t be seen” plays a HUGE role in many people’s use of social media. They think because you can’t see their face, you can’t recognize their voice.

    Amelia, welcome! Change is hard – but the greatest opportunities lie in chaos!

  11. When we think of social media, our thoughts turn to Twitter, Facebook and WordPress, mainly because this is all the current rage and everyone is talking about them.

    But unless you actually use a support app to follow conversations on Twitter, it is not being used to its full potential. And the chances are that non-focused content on public social sites will grow tiresome. Even though WordPress enables bloggers to file their posts by category, every bit of information published to one becomes obsolete.

    The problem with sales today is no different than it was before Web 2.0. Everyone seems to equate selling with something underhanded. Back in Richard Nixon’s day he was compared to a used car salesman — as if there was nothing lower on this planet!

    But the truth is there would be no commerce without sales messages. A sales message can combine useful information alongside a call-to-action!

    Elaine Garretts last blog post..Apr 14, Working From Home

  12. Elaine,

    Welcome and a hearty AMEN!!! Marketing (advertising in particular) is merely a business in the act of communicating a message with potential customers.

    A common mantra here is “there is no magic in social media”. If you don’t have a clear message to communicate, the Twitter, Facebook or Blogging won’t help your business one iota.

    I commonly tell people “use Tweetdeck and you’ll be well on your way to understanding Twitter”. However, I was just explaining to a client the way Twitter REALLY works. His reply was priceless – “So why do I see people Tweeting about their dentist appointments?” Um – because those people don’t understand that there are two purposes to Twitter – to inform and to entertain.

    Oops- that’s a whole new blog post!

  13. Totally agree. Although I think it should also be mentioned that for some people this is a problem, well, because, some people are just jerks and if you’re being your jerk-self that will not help close any sales. Which I guess just boils down to, social media isn’t for everybody.

    Good article.

    James Kurtzs last blog post..Drew Struzan Movie Poster Designer

  14. James-

    A hearty AMEN to that!!! You’re right – some people seem to able to “contain” the jerk within for long enough to close the sale. Unfortunately, the mask comes off and the inner jerk emerges. Social media makes it difficult to maintain the mask and you’re right – it’s not for anyone who doesn’t want to be their authentic [jerk] self!!!

  15. Dear Kathy,

    If your first name were Jack, I’d say, “That’s a fact, Jack!” to this whole post.

    We interact first with human beings.

    As to Twitter, I’m still checking it out, as you may recall. Thanks for your Tweetdeck tip on my blog, I will be checking that out. Tweetdeck – that’s between the lido and the promenade decks on the Good Ship Tweetypop, right? 🙂

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Twitterpated (not!) (yet)

  16. Jannie,

    You’re in a vacation kind of mood!!! You’re thinking fun, sun and excursions!!!

    I am literally STUNNED at the number of people who forget that this whole “social networking” thing is all about people connecting with people.