Social selling

Social selling: more business bullshit to buy into

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 And it can replace outdated relationship-building and sales techniques like cold calling!”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 who 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 had taken the time I could’ve built that relationship and found out, right?


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 amateur dramatics.

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 things 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. And some really do take the personal brand twaddle literally. 

So 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?

Freelance SEO writer

Sarah Wilson-Blackwell

I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).

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