Why Selling Doesn’t Work On Social Media

November 6, 2018 Sales

Casual social media users probably don’t notice when businesses are selling on social media.

They don’t notice because they don’t follow companies that sell on social media.

Sure, some will follow if given extreme discounts and giveaways. But they won’t follow companies that try to sell on social media. They won’t follow companies that share their services pages or their product pages. And especially not contact information.

Why Selling Doesn’t Work

As the Internet has taken off, consumers have gained more power. More choice. Back in the heyday of radio and TV, there weren’t many choices when it came to content and entertainment. You watched the big show that was on and you watched through the ads, the sales, because there was no other option.

Today, everybody still sits in front of the TV for big shows and events, but during the commercials they’re bringing up their phones and probably looking at social media for a minute. But definitely not for companies that are selling on social media.

Selling doesn’t work because people are only in “buying mode” 3% of their life. That’s just an estimate. It might even be generous.

So 97% of the time people just aren’t interested in buying anything. They’re interested in being entertained or educated. They’re looking for some kind of human connection.

That’s it and sales doesn’t fit the bill. So they don’t pay attention.

What Does Work

Outbound marketing is interrupting someone during their normal life to make a sale. That will work, at best, 3% of the time. But because the immediate goal is to get a sale the conversion rate looks pretty good. It’s also predictable. You interrupt 100 people and you get ~3 sales. Not bad.

inbound marketing is earning the attention of people. Word of mouth. Buzz. Whatever you want to call it. You create content that is entertaining and educational and the audience finds it because they’re looking for it. The conversion, though, is the engagement. It doesn’t lead to an immediate sale most of the time. Sometimes not for years. It’s a long-term play. It can be difficult to track unless you focus on long-term overall growth. Which you should. But because it’s not natural for most businesspeople and because it’s long-term, most people don’t have the patience of comfort to do it.

But that’s the opportunity. If you invest in inbound marketing on social media. Videos, audio and text. And if you do it for the long game, you’re going to pass your competitors. They’re busy trying to sell and nobody is following them. Meanwhile, you’re creating regular content and learning with each piece what works and what doesn’t. An in a few years you’re going to be killing it and getting all kinds of attention and engagement.

Final Thought

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of sales. Without sales and salespeople many businesses would struggle. You don’t grow without new customers. I believe in both outbound and inbound. Many outbound efforts are thanked. The prospect thanks for the salesperson for reaching out “at just the right time”. They happened to hit the person during the right 3% of their buying time.

The point to this post, though, is that social media is about the other 97% of the time. The time when people are looking for entertaining and educational content. You still want to earn the attention and trust of people with social media. But sales won’t get it done. Think of it as branding. You’re building awareness for your brand so that when people are in buying mode they know about you, how to find you and what to buy from you.