Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But that’s social media for you — a complex beast. Adopting a sales-first approach to social media marketing is a mistake. More often than not, it has the opposite of the intended effect. Social media selling doesn’t generate sales, it alienates your audience.

Hang on a minute.

Be that as it may, isn’t social media marketing all about driving sales? After all, that’s what everyone in the social media game seems to be preaching.

Well, although this may be true, in some respects, there’s a fundamental difference between social media marketing and social media selling that, actually, makes all the difference.

A point often overlooked is that marketing isn’t selling. 

Similarly, selling isn’t marketing.

‘Sales’ and ‘Marketing’ are two terms that are often used interchangeably. And incorrectly.

Which is why social media selling doesn’t generate sales. But also why social media marketing does.


Significantly, this confusion between ‘Sales’ and ‘Marketing’ often leads businesses to make costly mistakes.

Let’s take a closer look at the problem.

What is Social Media Selling?

In general, social media selling is the act of trying to sell something using social media to target a specific audience. Hardly enlightening, but bear with us here.

Direct sales techniques position a product or service as a solution to a particular consumer problem or need. Significantly, it is obvious that you are being sold something. In fact, you’re often ‘asked for the sale’ as a way of closing the deal (e.g. ‘buy now’, ‘place order’, ‘add to cart’, etc.).

It’s important to realise that social media selling is not the same as using social media for retargeting

Of course, direct sales techniques have their place. They work well in email marketing (because you already have a captive audience that you’ve built a relationship with) and traditional advertising, for example. However, social media provides users with a platform for social interactions. They’re not there to be sold to. They’re there to interact and engage with other users.

Which is why social media selling often falls flat.

The Difference Between Marketing and Sales

As already mentioned above, ‘Sales’ and ‘Marketing’ are two terms that are often confused. Especially when it comes to social media.

Whereas social media selling is the direct sales approach, social media marketing is about building a relationship with the consumer.

In other words, social media marketing is the equivalent of being courted or wooed, taken on several dates to get to know one another before sealing the deal. Social media selling, on the other hand, wants to sleep with you straight away and makes it plainly obvious from the moment you meet.

Which method is more likely to result in a long-lasting and fruitful relationship?

How Does Social Media Drive Sales?

When it comes to social media marketing, it must be remembered that it’s a long game. The groundwork you lay now will only start bearing fruit a few months down the line. It’s a test of endurance and perseverance. There are no instant results. And any that do come by, are often short-lived.

Consequently, many businesses give up on social media marketing and return to either social media selling or other forms of advertising. The wait can be painful. But as with anything of value, it’s worth waiting for in the end.

Social media marketing is about being present. It’s a way of building brand recognition, engaging with your audience, maintaining conversations, offering value, with no expectations of anything in return. To begin with.

Once you have built your audience and they know and trust your brand, they’ll be more likely to choose you when they need the solution you’re offering.

Ultimately, you want people to think about you first when they have a problem. You want to be remembered as the best, most reliable and trustworthy solution. And that’s all down to creating that perception and building that relationship through your social media marketing.

Ready to Stop Selling on Social Media and Actually Get Sales?

Download our free guide to the 7 most common mistakes businesses make with their social media marketing.

  • Find out how to tackle the problem of social media selling. 
  • Learn how to build a fruitful, long-term relationship with your audience that yields ongoing sales. 
  • Identify the mistakes you’re currently making and find out how to avoid them. 
  • Gain insight on how to make the most of your social media presence.

We continually develop strategies to help businesses harness their social media presence to drive sales, without being ‘salesy’. Book a free consultation call today. Let’s make a difference to your bottom line.

Gareth Alvarez
Gareth Alvarez

Gareth, Social INK’s Head of Content (sometimes playfully referred to as ‘spellcheck’), just adores words. He’s written copy for ads, websites, and blogged extensively. Content marketing is his bag. He loves getting creative with his writing.