Many marketers want to know the best ways to sell in social media spaces. I have seen these sell attempts made on posts made on blogs, forums or twitter. As with anyone I applaud them for recognizing the social media spaces as being important to their business. I agree it is probably going to be one of the most important areas for companies in the future.
I may be a simple service person and not a marketer by trade, but I do think I know a little bit about this space. To me social media is the same as talking to a Customer during a phone conversation or in person. It never works when you throw something out there for the Customer to buy. When I spent more time managing people I always taught them to earn the right to sell. You do this by providing the best service and resolving any concerns. Once you do this, it is simple to review and offer something that is appropriate for the Customer. If nothing is appropriate, then nothing should be offered. It is letting the Customer guide the approach.
In social media the same is true. The first step would be to build relationships and earn the respect in the space. The way you build relationships is first listening. Doing so, you will understand the audience and the way interactions occur. It also allows you to learn about your brand and how companies use your products. The next step would be to engage with your Customers in the space. This is probably the most rewarding of the steps for company (at least in my personal opinion). There is nothing more fun than the opportunity to chat with your Customers. Once you do all this, then, and only then, can you consider selling. At the same time, just like in a phone call, it is only good to sell what it is appropriate for the needs of the Customer, or in the case of social media, the Customers involved. The other key (now this goes back to listening) is that it must be relevant. It must be a solution or fulfill a need.
This may be against the grain of many regarding selling, but I think in this space where the Customer has a high degree of control, it is necessary. Otherwise people will shut you out and not listen, which is also easy to do in this space. What are your thoughts?