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Social Is One to Many

Social Media was once called Social Media Marketing because, when marketers grabbed hold of the tools, they recognized them as one to many. The battle over whether or not the tools are for community or marketing can be traced back to 1999, and I offer the best of all evidence, The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Your Facebook post is worthless if it is only seen by one person (unless that is how you define your market). Your Tweets are seen by all of your followers. If your tweet was seen by only one person, you wouldn’t need Twitter. Now LinkedIn offers a publishing platform, recognizing that part of the value of having a network is being able to communicate with that network.

Social. Selling?

Let’s pretend you found your dream client on LinkedIn. You research the client, looking at their background, their interests, what groups they belong to, and maybe you find something they created and posted themselves. There is nothing social about that. It’s research. The only thing that has changed is the tool you have used.

Now you reach out make a connection request. That’s a one-to-one activity, and it feels like sales because you are asking for a commitment (albeit a very small commitment, often one with as much significance as being someone’s friend on Facebook).

What do you do next?

Let’s say you are one of the nervous kind who wouldn’t dare email your dream client to ask for an appointment. Nor would you dare to pick up the phone call them, cold calling being dead and all. So you decide to publish on LinkedIn, hoping that your dream client will read your excellent opinion on the industry. Maybe you believe that, upon recognizing your brilliance, your dream client will pick up the phone and call you, begging you to come in so they can give your their business. Publishing is one-to-many, and that makes it marketing and that makes it not sales (it’s publishing!).

Pretend that your published post didn’t grab your dream client’s attention. I know, it was a great post. Just pretend. You and your dream client are both members of an industry group. You find a question your dream client has asked, and you post a killer response. That post is public, so it’s mostly one-to-many. But wait. Your dream client responds to your comment. Now it’s one-to-one. But there was no ask, no commitment, and you’re not one inch closer to a deal than you were before he commented. No, you’re still not selling.

No one is a greater proponent of the social marketing toolkit than me (except maybe Koka Sexton, Jill Rowley, and Jamie Shanks).

You have never had a better set of tools for building your personal brand. You have never been able to project the value you create to the people who would most benefit from what you do as easily and effectively as you can now. If you aren’t using the tools, you are woefully behind right now. The line between marketing and sales is so blurry right now it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. So let me draw the line for you.

One to many is marketing (your posts, your tweets, your pictures, etc.). One to one with no ask and no commitment-gaining is nurturing, a more personal form of marketing. One to one with an ask and a commitment gained is selling.

Directly asking one-to-one on social is taboo (but Gary Vaynerchuck does it without fear). It looks self-oriented. The social folks generally look down on pitching. Pitching one to many is marketing. Pitching one to one over social is weird.

Directly asking for commitments face-to-face or on the telephone is personal. It’s one to one, as it should be.


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