My career in technology

One of the primary rules in social media marketing is “He who sells first, loses”.

I read this somewhere, and for the life of me I can no longer find the place where I found the quote. I’d love to give credit where credit is due, but I can’t. Best I can do is say “I am not the originator of the phrase,” and let it go at that. But I have frequently used that phrase.

But what I can do is expound on the concept, and tell you how I understand the phrase.  Hopefully you will enjoy my fun hypothetical example…

Social media is about connecting people together. That is what the “social” part is all about. Connecting is about making and having bonds between people. In the social arena, pretty much the fastest thing that can break a bond is being obnoxious. Obnoxious behavior will earn an “unfollow”, including (and especially) obnoxious sales tactics.

Are you on any e-mail lists? I don’t just mean marketing lists, but any kind of list. Which ones do you read? Which ones are likely to get deleted without being read? Have you ever unsubscribed from an e-mail list? I’m willing to lay money on the table that the ones you don’t read and the ones you unsubscribed from provided you with nothing you considered valuable. The ones you actually read give you something, something you value. If one of those lists that generally provide you with value occasionally has someone trying to start a “flame war“, or the occasional spammy content, you will put up with it because you get value.

In social media, it is not much different. People follow people and organizations they like, that they want to be associated with; at a very basic level, that they receive value from. The more value they feel like the connection gives them, the more tolerant they will be of obnoxious behavior. But social media, because of its immediacy, has a very high level of sensitivity to signal-to-noise problems, and a great deal of control over noise sources.

I’m going to illustrate this with two serious examples and a fun hypothetical one.

The first social media scenario – Twitter direct messages. It is probably appropriate for a business to acknowledge when they get a new follower with a direct message saying “Thanks for following us. If there is anything we can do for you, don’t hesitate to contact us!”. It would be obnoxious to send a direct message immediately after getting a new follower saying “Now buy our stuff!”

So, obnoxious behavior from a source that creates value less than the perceived level of obnoxiousness is the end of the line for a social connection.

My second serious scenario: a Twitter user follows two entities that they value equally. The first one of the two that tries to take advantage of that connection to make a sale that the user isn’t interested in has provided the least value before trying to make a sale. They have imposed on that connection, testing it, straining it. If they have built up insufficient strength in the connection, that connection will be broken. But even if it hasn’t broken the connection, that connection has just reduced its value by adding noise to the channel. So the relative value of the two connections has changed – the one that hasn’t yet imposed on the connection is now worth more because the other has devalued the connection by adding a cost to the user for the connection.

Finally, to drive the point home, here is my fun hypothetical scenario – I walk up to you in a bar… “Hi! My name is Jim Adcock. I’m a SharePoint guy. My focus is on discovering inefficiencies in business processes and creating solutions that give people more time to manage exceptions and grow business, instead of spending time managing processes. Can I borrow $10?”

I didn’t think so either.

But how would you respond if I said, “Hi! My name is Jim Adcock. I’m a SharePoint guy. My focus is on discovering inefficiencies in business processes and creating solutions that give people more time to manage exceptions and grow business, instead of spending time managing processes. You know that hottie you’ve been staring at for the last hour? Here is their phone number, and I’ve gotten them to agree to go out with you tomorrow. Can I borrow $20?”

Thanks! <pockets money> 🙂

Hopefully these scenarios clarify what I mean when I say “He who sells first, loses”. Anyone who puts making the sale ahead of creating connections that add value in the social media arena is going to lose.

Ooo, look – more posts about Social Media!


Comments on: "“He who sells first, loses”" (5)

  1. […] I leave figuring out what to say as an exercise for the reader, but remember the rule of social marketing – “He who sells first, loses!” […]

  2. […] when using social media. I’ve seen a phrase used recently about social media marketing, “He who sells first, loses.” When you sell something, you are asking others to give you something. While a mutually beneficial […]

  3. I have heard, that not selling at all is a equally good proposition. And sometimes works better. In your last example quote, you could have said ‘I have the phone number etc’ and still not asked for that 20 Dollars. There is a very good chance that the person himself would reply, ‘Thanks man, is there anything I can do for you?’ 🙂

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