How to Promote Your Products on Social Media Without Annoying People

October 13, 2015

It's something that really bugs so many of us and I want reminded of it late last week.

I was doing my usual LinkedIn “check” and up popped a post from someone who rarely posts:

“Read why you should buy our product [x].”

It was the first post that person had made for a long, long time and the last post was actually something very similar.

It got me thinking: how do we expect to make sales, raise awareness or actually gain anything positive from this kind of social media activity?

Delving a little deeper in to this, it made me look at how I run my own social media accounts.

Of course, I promote a lot of content, a lot of the time. Especially on Twitter where the “lifespan” of a Tweet is so low.

But what I really, desperately try to do is to be present, to actually hold conversations with people.

Of course, so many of us work positively like this on social media but it saddens me that there is a large portion of small business that run social media accounts as if it's a leaflet drop: popping in every now and then, trying to sell you something and then disappearing until the next leaflet drop.

Why oh why does anyone expect this to work in this modern, person-to-person world?

Of course, the sad follow up to this scenario for many small businesses is: “Social media doesn't work for us.”.

What a shame that is.

With so many people using social media to research their purchases and share experiences in using businesses they've dealt with, there is little doubt that the platforms themselves “work“.

This must then lay the blame for social media “not working” squarely at the door of the account holders, the publishers.

We're all publishers, we should act like it

Here's the realism: we truly are all publishers by default.

The moment that we hit “Tweet”, “Share” or otherwise we put content out in to the world that bears our association and more so, our seal of approval.

It is that content which defines how we're perceived. It becomes an integral part of our personal brand and more so, regardless of whether we take control of it or not; of whether we own the responsibility, it influences our network to consider us in one light versus another.

Using the example I mentioned, do we really want our public persona to become that of a lazy salesperson by default?

In this example, surely it would be better to simply post nothing at all. Ever.

By simply accepting that we don't want to be present on any given platform, regardless of arguments for or against, we can at least control that perception to a small degree.

With that said, I truly believe that most small businesses will inevitably “do” social media, if for no other reason than simply feeling like they're missing something if they don't, or that they're doing something positive by at least having a social media account.

We're all compelled to do what our neighbours in business are having success with, yet when it comes to social media it often gets treated less as a marketing tactic with ties to a larger strategy than it does a chore that must be completed by the lowest paid person in the marketing team, who “knows about Facebook”.

Social media is more than a tick in a box

Often, when social media is delegated to someone who just happens to “know Facebook etc“, it becomes the proverbial tick in a box.

They have to “do” it so that they can say that they have done it.

This approach is the very approach that leads to the example I gave earlier: the social nomad, the wanderer who passes through now and then to peddle his wares to the unsuspecting denizens of the town.

But the denizens of today's social platforms aren't as quite naive as the residents of Passamaquoddy, rarely buying into the singular sales message portrayed during these passing stints “in town”.

But, is there a better way for small business to sell using social media?

Of course. We have to be human.

Rather than shouting our message once in a blue moon and then retreating back to the social media shadows, we must be present on the platforms that we choose to focus on.

We must present value through meaningful conversation and trade the goodwill that this generates for the chance to, when the time is right, tell people about something that we can exchange for their hard earned cash and that may be of interest to them.

Though, what we must respect is that we need to get to know these people first. Our job is to provide solutions to their issues and be the helpful eye that ensures our product or service fulfils its promise.

We must show as much respect to these prospects as we do to our friends – even going so far as to think of each new contact as a friend in the making.

Without a relationship, are we arrogant enough to believe that our infrequent, wide-net sales post will strike a chord with people who actually, probably forgot that they followed us in the first place?

There's something really simple that we can all do right now to begin transforming the way that we “sell” using social media:

Ask: “How can I help?”.

Try it, and don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you will excel.



Mark Asquith

That British podcast guy, Mark is co-founder of, the world's only growth-oriented podcast host. A Harvard, TEDx, Podcast Movement and Podfest speaker (amongst many more!), he's a wildly approachable Brit and Star Wars/DC Comics geek.

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