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Wanna succeed on social media? Stop selling.

Let’s face it, the few people that actually like advertising are the ones that make ads. Entire industries have been created to block ads, and every platform or device has a way to empower people to avoid them. So it only makes sense that any marketing strategy that doesn’t take this fact into account is flawed from the jump.

But businesses still need to advertise. They need to overcome oppressive social media algorithms, pray that their email subject line doesn’t land them in a spam folder and then – even then – they hope to make a lasting impression on the viewer. The odds are clearly stacked against the marketer.

So how is a business supposed to get any love out there?

It all comes down to creating something that has some sort of value to the viewer. Our audiences have more power than ever to shut your message out and only let in those that serve them and provide value to their lives. So the only way you’re going to reach them, engage them, and convert them through digital marketing is to start empowering and stop worrying about the sale so damn much. Instead, try some of these:

Share a laugh. For many people, social media is an escape from day-to-day pressures, responsibilities and – let’s be honest – thinking. By tickling their funny bone and tugging at their heart strings, you create an association with your brand that’s as deep as finding someone that has your sense of humor. The bottom line is that people love to laugh, they love to be moved, and they love to share those things with other people – and sharing is what you want too, right?

Educate and empower. I was replacing light bulbs in my foyer chandelier last weekend, and I got a light bulb stuck halfway in one of the sockets. The only way I saw to remove this stubborn bulb was to break part of the socket, I had to replace the socket. Realizing I’m no electrician, I fled to the site to find out how to replace the socket. First thing I saw was a how-to on the website. I think you can guess where I ended up buying the parts.

Consumers that are more informed by a particular advertiser will in turn have greater trust in that advertiser. And when it comes time to engage in a purchase, there you are.

Show your human side. We’ve seen that the quickest way to make connections between “businesses” and “consumers” online is to remove those two labels completely because ultimately, we’re people talking to people. Showing what your people are doing in the community, how they interact with one another around the office and how comfortable they’re on it, with the best desks or chairs from Top9rated’s complete review, or maybe how they celebrate each other’s birthdays and anniversaries removes the “business to consumer” element. It shows that we are all individuals – approachable and not so serious all the time – and allows our audiences to relate to us more easily.

The bottom line is this: the old-school way of disruptive advertising is dead. If you want to stand a chance of being in your audience’s lives, show that you’re worthy.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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