The Sarky Type – content with more bite

Ok before I start moaning again let’s define what the eff I’m talking about.

What is social selling?

Hootsuite reckons it’s this:

“Think of social selling as modern relationship-building. Actively connecting with potential customers on social media can help you be the first brand a prospect considers when they’re ready to make a purchase. And it can replace outdated relationship-building and sales techniques like cold calling!”

(Blimey, Hootsuite really doesn’t like cold calling – calm down love.)

Something happened the other week.

Sometimes things happen to me.

This guy happened. 

He was dead keen to have me on his copywriting team. 

(It’s always impressive when someone reads my content and still wants to work with me.)

So this guy, right, he hires freelancers and thinks I’d be quite a weapon in his marketing arsenal.

Hold up, let’s not get excited just yet.

When agencies contact me I know it’s going to be a waste of time.

They have a way of working and you either bend to that way or you don’t get hired. 

I get that but freelancers are also business owners – not employees. 

And as fellow business owners, they have their own values and boundaries. 

(You already know how this is going to go.)

After three messages I knew this would be a match made in hell. And the reason why was all because of social selling.

You know I’m a grumpy bastard and anything that has ‘social’ in the title is liable to make me irritable. 

Sure I connect with potential clients on the socials – that bit I’m totally cool with but other aspects of this marketing phenomenon have made doing business unduly complicated and frankly, awkward.

Let’s build a relationship…?

Sweet Je-huzus Christi.

This guy was more out than anyone on Dragon’s Den because I didn’t want to nurture a connection with him.

Now you might love that idea.

You also might get giddy about receiving a Calendly link for a virtual coffee. But for me, this stuff feels fake and fucking cringey.

This is why I hate social selling. 

It’s like you’re trying to soften the blow of making money. Guess what, you’re still selling but now it’s under the pretence of getting to know a prospect. 

Honesty in business is something I hold dear. I am very comfortable with folks openly selling their products and services. 

I appreciate that people, like me, need to pay bills and support families.

Listen, I’m not saying you can’t be a decent, genuine human that enjoys becoming besties with prospects.

(Prospects that may not convert to paying clients.) 

If that’s you, brilliant. You’ve clearly got loads of cash and not enough friends.

I’m not saying this guy wasn’t genuine.

I have no idea what motivates him. If I took the time I could’ve built that relationship and found out, right?

Wrong.

I don’t know how one call does that. It’s taken me months – years to build any relationship I’ve ever had.

Also – most of us are not our true selves with strangers. 

We are often overly polite and accommodating. That isn’t relationship building, that’s theatre.

I was pretty confused.

Didn’t this guy contact me because he wanted to hire me? Hadn’t he seen my content and felt like I was a good fit?

Imagine going to a job interview only to be told this:

“We can’t consider you for the role until we have a deep understanding of who you are.”

Well, shit.

Let’s suppose you do spend ages involving yourself with this crap.

What happens when you don’t get the job? 

Well, nothing except you’ve just lost time you can never get back and there’s still no money in your pocket.

Your CV tells a prospective employer all they need to know before granting you an interview. My website and social media profiles do the same for potential customers.

You’re either qualified or you’re not.

If someone makes contact in view of hiring you, you’d be forgiven for thinking they think you’ve got what it takes.

(Or it’s a dirty ploy to sell to you or sext you.)

Hey, this guy is entitled to run his company how he wants.

And if his core business belief is to have a relationship with everyone he hires BEFORE hiring them, so be it.

When I have worked as an employee or as a freelancer the one thing has always been true: I’ve fostered any kinships AFTER I got the job.

For example, if you hire someone like me to write your content and you’re impressed with the service, chances are, you’ll hire me again. 

And the more you interact with me the more we will GENUINELY get to know each other.

Conversely, if you didn’t like the experience, you can avoid me at all costs.

Social selling has become a gateway drug to emotional incontinence.

I think it’s the reason why businesses now piss and shit out feelings.

I almost wish we could go back to the old days when brands would talk about the thing they sell and not some past trauma.

It’s very on-trend to reveal every intimate detail of our lives on social media.

And it seems to be the new way to make a sale. 

We overshare in the hopes that someone might buy from us. Even by my standards that’s pretty cynical and anything but honest and ‘authentic’.

It makes me feel dirty (and not good dirty) when I see brands doing this and yes, that probably does mean I’m not their target audience. 

I get a similar feeling when advertisers use feminism (or some other social issue) to sell shit. 

Dove spews out inclusivity ads like there’s no tomorrow. Beauty brands like L’Oreal coin slogans like “Because you’re worth it” – companies built campaigns on women not feeling worth it. 

If you’re not careful social selling can make you sound like a self-indulgent little twerp – some really do take the personal brand twaddle literally. 

And for that reason, I’m out.

If you’re after some new content via the means of a simple transactional process, I’m here for the foreseeable, so why not find out about my services.

You’re not at all surprised that I am my own ideal client.

To you it’s beyond obvious and yet it comes as quite a revelation to me. Yeah, seriously, I can hardly believe what an idiot I have been.

And what a time-saving hack!

Don’t you see it’s perfect? And for a lazy person (of which I am) it’s positively inspired.

All businesses need content and copy.

I could have chosen to target practically anyone in the entire world.

(So I did, I chose me.)

Some peeps aren’t so lucky. You might be selling a product that only a select need. 

But if you’re like me (lazy and self-centred) you might be your ideal client. 

I know all about me.

I need only ask myself this: what keeps me awake at night?

(I mean, so many things and not fun things, sexy things or things that I’d gladly give up sleep for, no, what keeps me awake at night is wondering if I should change the copy on my homepage for the fiftieth time – and don’t say yes you should!)

Like my ideal client, I want decent content.

The kind of stuff you read and think, yes, this is brilliant, I want to consume all the content this person and/or business has written. 

My perfect customer (get ready for another vomit-inducing marketing phrase), has the pain point of not having content that is scrummy to devour. 

Currently, what they have is the same as most other B2B brands. And that is dull, tired, clichéd verbiage that does naff all for their audience. 

Are you me?

Not completely me but are you like me in the ways of business?

I know what you’re thinking – what is this, some kind of fun game? Or is she touting for business?

Ok, I have a confession (I have many but no one has that kind of time): everything I do for The Sarky Type is me touting for business.

Fancy some role-play?

SURE YOU DO.

Imagine you’re sitting with me in a classy, beautifully lit hotel bar.

Somewhere a piano is playing (not by itself – it’s not a pianola – this isn’t an East End boozer).

We’re having a little chat, a sort of low-key interview – nothing for you to get nervous about, it’s a very casual work-related conversation.

We have snacks.

(Snacks I said.) 

Tea and coffee but alcohol is available (thank Christ for that).

And so we begin…

“I appreciate you meeting with me.” 

(You nod, looking very grateful for the opportunity.) 

“So, let’s see if you’re eligible to be my ideal client. I notice from your file that you love sarky humour and swearing, can you tell me more about that?”

You adjust your collar and respond: “For me, life without LOLs would be awful. I love laughing, especially at inappropriate things.”

I’m smiling in quiet agreement.

“And the swearing, Tony?”

(You may not be called Tony. I like to use a name though and I like to throw it in mid convo. Creeps some people out but I love it when my name is used during a chat.)

“I do love me some swears, Sarah” (see what I mean? Perfect client right there). “We don’t need to swear do we but we also don’t need art and chocolate. And in my view, the most interesting things in life are not necessities.”

Again, I agree with you and go on to ask: “It says here that you enjoy B2B marketing that is different, what do you mean by that?”

You take a sip of coffee (hoping the booze comes sooner rather than later) and continue…

“Businesses selling to other businesses have other things to consider than say a single consumer – I get that but I don’t understand why B2B marketing has to be so fucking terrible. And that’s where I feel you come in.”

“That’s very kind of you to say, Tony.” I glance at my list and as I do you ask: “Can we order cocktails? It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?”

I point to the drinks menu and take a furtive look at my watch: it’s ten in the morning here.

“You’ve answered yes to question three, can you expand on what you consider to be a ‘direct approach’?”

“Of course. I really don’t like faffing. If I want to hire someone, I have all the info at the ready before I make contact. I value your time as much as my own and if I don’t have a budget for the work, I wouldn’t dream of contacting you.”

It’s no surprise that I agree with that statement too because I am you and you are me. 

No, this isn’t a real conversation.

But as I’m having so much fun (and as you’re me, you are too) I will keep this up a little while longer.

Our cocktails arrive. 

You’ve gone for an old fashioned which is my subconscious wanting a date with Don Draper.

(Some clarity: there are those that feel Draper is a problematic character in these post-feminist times. And he is but Mad Men is a period piece and the mid-century styling is amazing also – the script is fabulous.)

I sip my desert-dry Martini and peek at what’s next.

“You accept the process. What does that mean?”

“I never question your methods, Sarah.” Again I’m nodding. “I do exactly what you ask. Otherwise, you can’t do your job. And I’m petrified you might cause me physical harm if I don’t.”

“You’re joking, of course.”

You laugh nervously “Yes, obviously” and quickly finish your cocktail.

But seriously…

We’re here for a good time, not a long time, yeah?

This is what it means to have fun with your content, right? RIGHT? 

I dunno, I think I’m having fun. 

I can’t actually remember the last time I experienced jollification but I’m sure it has happened.

You might kinda nearly be my ideal client but without the daytime drinking.

Look, I don’t want to be rude but you’ve been around the block – just like me – a forty-something business owner (still looking smokin’ hot, obvs) that shares the same cultural references (unlike younger millennials and gen z).

So my question to you is this: are you my ideal client? If you’re still not sure why not read this and find out.

I don’t get a lot of social media engagement.

Yes, I am a bitter, forty-something woman who yearns to boost her own fragile ego with comments and likes – especially as her physical currency declines.

And there’s nothing quite so terrifying as watching your collagen deplete and hairs grow evermore abundant from your nostrils.

But would all that ego-stroking engagement help to get better leads?

I dunno. You probably need to ask someone that gets a shit-ton of likes and comments. 

It does make mathematical sense.

I’m terrible at maths but it’s logical that hoards of humans opining on your posts will bring you new clients.

The burning question is: are they the right kind of clients?

From the hundreds of messages you could potentially receive, some, I guess, might happen to be your perfect business customer.

Filtering through the “Hi Dear” DMs, the sales pitches, and the pitiful dick pics seems like a total pain in the arse to me.

Sounds like most of these ‘potential’ clients should be avoided like you would Jeremy Clarkson’s stylist (or, Jeremy Clarkson). Lemme tell ya – summat ain’t right.

Content that brings the motherlode of engagement.

Generic social media content works well with the general population. 

Just like broad humour, more people are likely to appreciate it.

When a man dresses as a woman, most of us laugh (especially when Les Dawson does it). But when Stewart Lee performs stand up, a huge chunk of the public has no clue what others are finding funny.

So when you post a cute cat meme or some vague, inspirational quote, most people will lap that shit up.

They’re like, yeah, this is giving me my daily dose of dopamine.

If it’s a dog photo or video, I’m feeling that too but I don’t read the accompanying text, I’m certainly not paying attention to what the person does and whether or not I need what they’re selling.

It’s content for engagements’ sake.

When you spot a lovingly-crafted Canva graphic that says: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” It will nearly always outperform a clever, nuanced, targeted business post.

That makes perfect sense because most people don’t want your gear, not everyone needs it.

And what monster is going to argue with the sentiment of being kind?

Most of us are not rolling our eyes when we read a post like that.

The majority aren’t cringing at the vacuous, regurgitated message that’s wheeled out in a cynical attempt to get a “Great post!” or “THIS!” comment from thousands of strangers.

We’re not analysing what being kind truly means and how a show of kindness can be something different for each person and circumstance. 

Who knows just how kind the person posting that stuff is?

We don’t.

They might knock their partner about, maybe they’re a terrible parent, perhaps they don’t walk their dog, leaving the poor pooch to slowly descend into madness whilst it circles a small backyard.

We don’t give that depth of thought to social media posts. 

What most of us do is like the bloody thing and maybe leave a positive, affirmative comment.

(Except me, I’m that monster rolling their eyes and cringing.)

These posts are the fast food of social media content.

They have no nutritional value. They do not sustain us nor do they help us in our long term business thing. But that’s not the point of them. Short term adoration is their purpose. 

Posting for engagement is not a bad thing.

If you have dreams of becoming a celebrity or influencer off the back of your YouTube channel, Linkedin or IG profile, then that’s a business plan of sorts, and for the very few it can work. 

Hey, we liked to be adored.

We want to be wanted by the people we admire, covet, and desire.

That’s no different in a business sense. We’re getting off on the nice words and compliments. Maybe the head doctors might suggest it’s because our inner child seeks the validation we didn’t get from our parents.

(I have no idea if that’s true but it sounds like it might be. It’s probably true for me!)

I post music videos.

And videos of me talking nonsense. Some weirdos like it and they tell me so, so I do it some more.

It’s like mummy saying, “What a good girl you are, Sarah.” Aw, thanks mum.

All that back-slapping hasn’t once induced someone to buy my book or hire me to sort out their awful content.

(Or lead to a recording contract / TV series.)

So, how sustainable it is to chase engagement for business is not for me to question, again, I don’t get those kinds of views but I wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy (because it’s not my area of knowledge, yeah).

Back to business.

There’s no mystical method to getting leads on social media.

You don’t need to embark on a Middle-earth quest with a leprechaun, a half-woman half-elf being, and Sean Bean (he’ll only die anyway).

Organic marketing is not that exciting. And like Eamonn Holmes, it’s incredibly unsexy.

Stamina is one quality you will need.

Get comfortable posting sales content.

Yes, business posts that actively sell what you do, either way, they will bomb compared to a dog video.

Cultivate a thick skin.

You’ll need a strong stomach for being seen. Some people won’t like your sales content.

Just to add to the ‘fun’ of social media, a few might not like you very much. Learn to genuinely not care about that.

Humans will have an emotional response to your business and the posts you create on behalf of it. Ignore the negative reactions.

They are not from people who will buy from you so they don’t matter.

Once they decide you’re not for them, there’s not much you can do about it.

Nor should you try.

Even if a few are your ideal client – you can’t win them all.

(Now you can see why it’s easier to post cat memes.)

Being liked by most people is a smoother road to travel.

Some of us can’t help being a thorn in the side (and some of us quite enjoy it).

Conforming in life and in business always appears to be the easy, comfy option. I view it as a compromise and one I’m not willing to take, especially if it hurts my personal and professional success.

Yes, I bang on about this stuff all the damn time because it’s critical when you write your business content and copy. It’s also very relevant, as we seem to be inundated with bland generic business content across social media.

Hell, you probably won’t win many, if any friends.

Content for engagement is transitory. It’s like candy floss – tasty and over in seconds. (And candy floss is great but you wouldn’t want it every day for dinner).

Now I know what you’re thinking, you would LOVE to work with me. You’re in luck because I do allow that, why not click here to find out more.