Social media is all about engagement

engageI have recently encountered a large number of people using social media as a hard sales tool. Yes social media is definitely a great marketing and communications tool – no question. It’s a necessity for all businesses to build their community and can absolutely generate sales. But I do have a problem with people who connect with you and then send a personal message with an immediate sales pitch. Where is the engagement?

Take for example, LinkedIn: a professional communication channel. You could call it a digital networking platform. But just because it is digital, does not mean the networking should be any different from what you would do in person? Would you go into a networking function and before you introduce yourself, just go straight into the hard sell? Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario 1:

You attend a breakfast networking function. You sit down at the table that has 10 professional strangers, where each person introduces themselves. You find out what each other does and you listen intently to the person opposite share how they have increased their business and even given some tangible freebie to hook you. Then over the course of the next 10 minutes, they share that there is a seminar this weekend that would provide this information and that you might like to attend. They even personalise to your goals and what you do (information they learned over the discussion).

Scenario 2:

You attend a breakfast networking function. You sit down at the table that has 10 professional strangers. Immediately the person opposite says “Hi, I’m so impressed with what I have achieved by using the information I learnt at the last free seminar I’m attending again, I thought you might like to exponentially grow your business too”


Which scenario would actually entice you to do business with the person opposite. I’m gathering it is not scenario 2. So really why do people think it is ok to do that in the digital space? Yes, I recently received that email the day after a person (stranger) connected with me on LinkedIn. People do not want to do business with people who do not show any interest in them. The best sales people in the world, try to find out information about the services and the products so they can do the sales spiel that is relevant to their prospective client/customer. Going back to that email; I even spent the time replying, advising the person that they should engage rather than sell. Their reply: ‘I didn’t know what you did’. Gee how about looking at my profile or even sending an introduction email first?

Yes increasing sales and obtaining a profit in your business is vital. You can’t grow your business without sales and sometimes you have to make ‘cold calls’. But you will always be more successful if you target your message to the person and you listen to their needs.


With prospective clients; find out what they need, what they want and show how your services will benefit their business. Social media assists you being able to find out that information – the information is at your finger tips. If you do want to generate leads, try engagement. If you are going to do a ‘cold call’ in the form of a personal email, try introducing yourself first, especially in LinkedIn. It’s important to remember this is a professional networking channel. Social media is all about engagement – engage first, sales second and you’ll be more successful. Remember this rule: 80% of your time should be engagement and 20% of the time should be sales: otherwise people are going to unfollow, disconnect and not want to do business with you.

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