Social media about connecting, not selling

BANFF, Alta. – “It was hot in there!” declared Kimberly Allison of Marketing RX Inc. after her April 30 tutorial on the benefits of social media from a business perspective to attendees at the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) Leadership Conference.

The heat may have been coming from Allison’s high-energy presentation, which touched upon several ways trucking companies could increase their exposure and presence on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Titled ‘A real valuable tool, or a real waste of time?’ Allison said social media should be viewed as shared user-generated content and not as an arena to sell services to a customer, or ‘follower.’

“The power of social media is incredible,” Allison said. “Social media is about fun, sharing value and establishing yourself in the marketplace.”

When businesses are looking at how social media could benefit them, Allison said the ‘social’ acronym spells out to the need to be social, open, collaborative, interested, authentic and likeable.

“Nobody falls in love with a business card, a logo, or a building,” she said, “they fall in love with you.”

Allison said one of the key initiatives businesses should take when employing the use of social media is to develop a strategic plan.

This plan includes researching your audience to see where your target customers are on social media; defining your voice as being educational, funny and geared toward a particular demographic; aligning your strategy with your business’ goals; developing a calendar of content to give people direction; assign tasks for people to complete; determine wins so you know if your plan is successful; and creating content to share on social media.

“It makes me crazy when businesses just share what other businesses are saying,” Allison said. “Don’t you have anything original to say?”

Allison said there were five reasons every business should be active on social media: it has the best value for your advertising dollar; you reach prospective clients and get referrals; you build a community of ‘raving’ fans; it betters customer service; and, frankly, it makes your company look ‘cool.’

“People don’t want to call you anymore, they reach out on social media, and if you’re not on social media, you can bet your competitors are,” she said, adding that social media is not a ‘set it and forget it’ type of platform. “Please understand that live interaction is huge. The more you connect the better your social media experience will be.”

Getting the room involved, Allison asked attendees to first speak to the person next to them and try to sell them a product in one minute. Next, she said to just talk to the person for the same amount of time not selling anything, but rather about a holiday or favourite employee one might have. The audience agreed that the second exercise felt much more natural and was easier than trying to sell a product, which Allison likened to what companies should be trying to do on social media – building trusting relationships with clients – something she said would eventually lead to several benefits from a company perspective.

“I want you to change your thinking from selling to helping,” Allison said. “This is a very important part of social media…you’re selling what you can do for that person, it’s business 101.

“There is a thing called content fatigue out there…there’s a lot of noise,” she added, stressing the importance for businesses to stay on brand and ensure that what they are putting out there on social media sticks to the plan and goals a company has set.

From a marketing standpoint, Allison said the old mantra of the four Ps – product, price, place, promotion – was not what social media was all about, but was rather creating, curating, connecting and culture.

Highlighting three of the main social media platforms, Allison called Facebook ‘the keg party,’ as it was all about friends and family and having fun. Twitter was ‘the cocktail party’ because it was a marketing person’s dream, as you don’t need any permission to connect with someone. Finally, LinkedIn was ‘the business breakfast’, with its ability to allow companies to connect and network with others in a professional environment.

When it comes to return on investment, Allison admitted that not every interaction in the business world must or will lead to a sale, highlighting the fact that when you speak with coworkers it’s more about building relationships with them, much like how social media should be utilized.

“If I can teach you one thing today, it’s don’t sell!” she reiterated. “Inspire and interact. Find things that are interesting and ultimately you will influence (customers) when it comes to your services.”

Allison provided information on the types of paid advertising companies could execute on various social media sites, and said each business would have to learn which platform was right for their needs and accentuated the importance of tracking results.

“If you’re not reviewing you analytics, you don’t know how you’re doing against your competitors,” she said.

Ultimately, Allison said the mentality of marketing on social media sites was very different from the standard ABC rule of selling – ‘always be closing – which in 2016 has morphed into ‘always be connecting.’

During his introduction, AMTA board chairman Dan Duckering said Allison was the one person he has seen who actually understands the business side of social media.

A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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  • Great post Derek. I agree with few things you mentioned in the post. I do believe Social Media is more for branding and establishment and less for sales. If we take a broader view, branding promotes sales. I solely think, marketers should be more focused on social media branding.

  • I agree with your view here Derek. There again I believe Social Selling is also growing at a rapid rate. While on Social Media your approach should be inbound strategies rather that spamming your target audience. I would also recommend you to take a look at