If a new trend appears and it has the right elements, it will stick. One of the elements that needs to be present is familiarity, and there’s a reason for that: we tend to adopt that which looks like what we already know. Or simply put: if it feels familiar, you’ll like it.
What’s always surprised me is the ability of some people to make something familiar and known into something brand new, unknown and game changing. Social Selling is one of those things that is vastly familiar and yet it poses as a new way of doing things. There’s some truth to it of course, and then there’s layer over layer of makeup, which is there for one reason: to make it new and shiny.
When the trend implies an action (like “selling”), familiarity alone is not sufficient. There needs to be an anchor of some type that eventually evolves into behavior change, into that action. There is no better way to do that than leveraging existing and specific meanings that lead to that action. The one that operates here is clear enough: “let’s sell through social media“.
Now to the fun part: I thought I’d break-down the terminology a bit. Here’s what the Merriam-Webster dictionary says about “Social”:
You will note there’s nothing around “social media” there, but rather a few definitions that basically involve “people”. I guess one way to put it is that social = people. Anything that starts with “social” is immediately associated with the medium (social networks) and less with the actual meaning of the word. That simple fact translates social selling into = using social media to sell but, ironically enough, does not provide a full definition on what social selling really is. There’s more to it than what looks more like inherited meaning, or meaning by proxy.
We are now moving to the “selling” part. The actual definition of the action, by Merriam-Webster is known to everyone, which doubles the familiar aspect of the whole concept. Here’s what it is about:
Nothing there on Social Networks either. There is nothing thad leads us straight to “social” there, yet we can perceive a strong implication. Simply put: there is no selling without someone to sell and someone to buy. That points us back at “social”, which we have already established equals to people.
Selling is an action that requires engagement with other people, which makes it a social activity.
We are now missing just one part of the formula that I haven’t mentioned before: how does “social” and “selling” then translate into “using social media to sell”?. Easiest way to explain it is that there’s just some hidden or implied meaning that ties it all back to Social Media. Let’s see what our friends at Merriam-Webster think about it:
Now, we could break that down into it’s own parts of course but thats not he idea of this post. Let’s leave it at this: without even discussing social media at first, we immediately know that social selling relates to the use of this kind of media to sell. That’s the familiarity I’m referring to at the top of this article.
In the effort of gaining something from this, most people just focus on building their on-line profiles differently or producing content that will, 8 out of 10 times, not be impactful at all. The average time this infatuation lasts is the about 4 months, the same time that ironically enough, fashion trends last. It is only those that stick to it and own it that make advancements and get to change that trend.
This was just an approach to better understanding what Social Selling really is considering all of the definitions, the literature and specialists that are out there already. My whole intent is to understand first, and then apply, which is in my experience, the only way of actually selling something. Or can you, in all honesty, say you would buy from someone who just doesn’t know what they are selling?