I have a message for the companies rushing into online communities & comment sections. I get that you have a product that COVID-19 can solve. I know you’re excited, and you want to help.

But after 7 years of selling via social, I have something to say:
Promotion and selling on social media is an EARNED right, not an assumed privilege.

Jumping into online communities and comments to pitch your app, service, or program is awkward.

It’s like running into a vet clinic waiting room and screaming, “I HAVE SOME CRAP TO SELL! WHAT’S UP? WHO WANTS IT?!” to a room of strangers.

Like with any good real life salesperson, it’s about adding value first.

I build online communities year round, not just in a pandemic. I’m the admin for Facebook & Instagram communities totaling over 20k veterinary professionals. Our Facebook group, Veterinary Social Media, is so big I hired someone to help me manage it.

I’m not the only person who invests time, effort, and money into building online communities in veterinary medicine.

Combined with the women in my #SnoutSquad mastermind, we have over 100k veterinary professionals following us or engaging with us online.

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, for example, launched a veterinary telemedicine group on Facebook last week. It’s already over 1,000 members.

Getting those numbers that fast isn’t an accident. People like Dr. Vogelsang & I have spent years building these followings online. We through meaningful support and helpful content. I’ve hosted over 100 free webinars, answered roughly a zillion marketing questions via social, and spent hours creating social media content to attract the people I want to help.

I’ve earned the right to sell to the people in my groups.

You haven’t, but that’s ok. You can get started.

Here are some best practices for B2B sales on social:

  1. Answer questions authentically, not just to pitch a demo.
  2. Share articles and resources that help that add value to the subject at hand, not just articles about your brand.
  3. Ask what people in that group need from you. Don’t post reviews of what you’ve done for other people, and don’t freaking throw up a poll in someone else’s group.

When you do these behaviors enough, it’s okay to sell relevant items to an online community… especially if it’s one you’ve built.

Communities you don’t own might have their own guidelines. They’ve earned that right through the hard work it takes to build an engaged online following.

Don’t have time for all of that? I get it. Building a community around your brand isn’t easy.

If you don’t want to invest the effort, pay the people that build the authentic online followings you want to access. We know what we’re doing, and the proof is in the engagement numbers.

You could be a partner and support our groups – financially or through co-promotion. This would help us add value to our communities naturally, and it would get your message out more effectively. Find transparent, qualified, trusted ambassadors your brand can partner with.

Whether you decide to step your game up or pass the job onto someone else, I promise you’ll get better long-term sales results. Relationship-building is a whole lot more valuable than a promo attack.

TL;DR – Try your best to learn how to truly connect with people online, or support someone who knows how!