Does Social Media Actually Sell?

Last week I read an article on Business Week that still has me shaking my head. The article, Social Media Doesn't Sell, by Damien Joseph argues that social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn fail as marketing tools.

The reason for this claim is based on a study that only a tiny percentage of ads and banners on social media sites actually get clicked by visitors.

Well of course not! These marketers are simply slapping an old-school ad on these sites and expecting them to get action. But that's not what social media is about.

Social media takes time and effort to produce results. If you read my comment to this article, you will see that I believe that delivering quality, informative and problem-solving content is a key component to social media marketing.

The vast majority of people go online to get information. They want something to help them solve problems, to help them achieve goals, or to help them make decisions. But simple ads just don't do that. Only good content gives people what they want.

David Meerman Scott, in his book The World Wide Rave, discusses how he surveys his audiences to get a sense of their buying behaviors. Over 80% of them go online to find information before they make an important buying decision. Yet, when they market their own products or services to others, they use old fashioned "interruption marketing" or "push marketing" techniques.

Effective social media marketing cannot be divorced from delivering quality content. Whether this content is your own creation, or whether you simply forward helpful articles or videos created by others, your simple acts of generosity is what builds relationships through social media.

This social media/ content marketing approach is absolutely essential. Your clients want to be educated. But they don't want to be sold to. They are far more responsive to a good article than they are to an ad slapped up on Facebook.

This is certainly not new. "Educational marketing" has been around for a long time. Years before Al Gore ever invented the internet, a few marketers have been willing to take the time to conduct seminars, offer newsletters or even, write books that give information to their marketplace.

These were the enlightened marketers, the few who were willing to take the extra pains to give away information. And by in large, they were rewarded by becoming recognized authorities in their fields.

Whether you do this offline or online, people appreciate the fact that you are willing to invest in them by educating them. The fact that you respect their intelligence shows through and will always get results.

So my stand is that social media does sell - if you play by its rules and understand what its users really want. Create content or give links to others' content, and use social media as the delivery system to get it to your audience.

If you like this article, follow me on Twitter.
Facebook me!
COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites