In Social Media, Conversation = Sales

With the current state of our economy, businesses have placed a lot of emphasis on cutting back on overhead — stocking inferior products, or decreasing hours for employees, etc. — and trying their best to keep their heads above water. And when a business is trying to keep its head above water, more often than not it’s focused on selling the most amount of products or services that it can for the least amount of money.

But selling isn’t something that consumers on social media take too kindly to. It happens, of course, but it’s typically more subtle than simply, “we’ve got a new product! Buy it now!”

The problem is, when businesses are having trouble staying afloat, they might resort to those sorts of ‘Buy Now!’ tactics in an effort to drive as many sales as possible through their already-established social media channels.

But conversation and relationships are far more important for your business than attempting to drive sales through social media, and here’s why.

Conversation Drives Fan Growth

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of social media is stimulating fan growth. Sure, giving away an iPad might instantly yield hundreds of potential likes and followers, but how many of them are really liking your page or following your Twitter account to learn more about your business?

On the other hand, being engaged, responsive and interesting on a regular basis can naturally drive fan growth, because the more people that are responding to your updates and sharing those updates, the greater the likelihood that one of their friends will see that update and find it interesting, and perhaps follow your account or like your page.

Which is why focusing on a purely organic means of driving fan growth isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it can teach your business about the value of being consistently interesting in the world of social media.

It’s About Building Relationships

One of the difficult things to convey towards businesses is that, in using social media you are building relationships — with real people, with local organizations and with members of the media.

Unfortunately, a lot of businesses can’t see the value in that, instead using social media as a medium through which to spread their spammy messages about their “CLAM BAKE ON FRIDAY NIGHT!” 

But relationships are important, because the stronger the relationship is, the more likely that person will be willing to share your content and recommend your business to a friend.

And the more fans you have, the greater the likelihood is that you’ll begin to naturally build a relationship with someone through the social media channels of your business.

Relationships Drive Sales

Apple has always been a company that has focused on creating a culture that naturally encourages relationship building among salespeople and customers. Employees of Apple, particularly at Apple’s stores, have always been trained to be overtly friendly and genuinely interested in your problems. “I understand why you feel that way,” they might say. They want to be your friend, not the person that’s trying to sell you an expensive computer.

And it is because of that emphasis on relationships that Apple is now worth roughly $600 gazillion.

If you are sharing interesting, relevant content to your social media followers, the likelihood that they will like, comment, or retweet that content is much higher.

And the more often they do that, the greater their affinity will be towards your brand. And, as in the case of Apple, the greater affinity that someone has towards your brand, the more likely that they will recommend your brand to a friend.

See where I’m going with this? Social media doesn’t drive sales through selling, per say. You have to get there the difficult way.

But inevitably, a brand that is successful in building relationships through social media will most likely be far more successful than one that isn’t.

How do you build and maintain relationships through social media?