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Sharing vs Selling in the New Economy

by Jay Deragon

posted in Internet and Businesses Online : Social Media

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I was recently engaged with a company which was getting ready to launch a branded social network. They were all excited about brining in the top names in their industry to join their network and selling their goods. They were getting ready to tell the top named people to join the network and just cut and paste "stuff" from these peoples own web sites and post the information onto their newly formed network. I went and looked at a few of the web sites for the proposed top names then I told the parties STOP THE PRESSES! Most of the "stuff" on the proposed web pages was selling and selling hard! The parties I was talking to were well established successful adults in their own niche.

The problem however was they were trying to apply what made them successful in the physical world to the virtual world of social networking, put simply it doesn't work! In the physical world of the past individuals, organizations and institutions "sold" their products and services by using certain established methods of selling. The methods primarily were aimed at telling the market how good your product is, why its better than the competition and marketing a value proposition that appealed to the needs of the masses.

The past methods of selling were aimed at using media to appeal to the emotions to a need aimed at invoking a purchase or inquiry vs. the fundamentals of building relationships which is driven by the psychology of sharing and giving vs. selling and taking.

Enter social networking as a new medium. What many adults don't understand about "social networking" is the basics of building relationships on line and the methods of establishing credibility. Lets use a physical life example. You live in a neighborhood. If you had a neighbor who constantly knocked on your door and tried to selling you his/her wares sooner or later you would simply stop answering the knock on the door. Door to door selling in neighborhoods has been banned by many city ordnances. Then why would we think it different in the virtual world?

In the virtual world people tend to migrate to others who have something in common or an experience to share. People migrate to forums and networks that connect them to like minded people and issues. The postings in social networks are more of a sharing experiences and giving information method than it is about directly selling a product or service. The virtual world of social networking is much like the neighborhoods of the physical world, "your home page, your brand, your postings, pictures, videos and connections" represent your personal virtual real estate".

If you want to build lasting, meaningful relationships you don't approach the relationships and others "real estate" in a constant selling mode and if you do you will fail and hurt your personal brand.In my physical neighborhood my neighbors get to know me and what I do for a living. My neighbors may approach me with a questions about something that I may be identified as knowing something about. In turn I would share information which may help them find or learn what it is they may be inquiring about. Subsequently if what I shared was helpful to them it just increases my credibility with my neighbors and my brands worth.

In the virtual world relationship building works much in the same way. The method of selling something is about reverse thinking. Give to the community and you earn the right and the natural human response from the community to get. A huge shift in thinking for many adults who try and apply old rules to a new world.

What say you?

Jay is one of the few really deep-thinkers about both the socio-cultural implications of social networking as well as the practical business application across a range of industries and sizes of business. Jay challenges me to “up my game”.” July 21, 2007 Scott Allen, Coauthor, “The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online”,

Mr. Deragon is consider one of the leading experts in the emerging market of social networking market. He has studied numerous platforms, features, functions and the markets behavior. His analysis and findings conclude that this space has tremendous potential for individuals, companies and entire industries. There is an art and science to social networking that requires constant learning as the market matures. To read more about my discoveries and findings check out my blog.

Mr. Deragon was previously Chairman of XSVoice, a mobile application company that provided technology for live and on demand audio broadcast to mobile devices. see

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