Stop selling and start telling


You put people off by shouting about your wares Old fashioned advertising (that is, pre-social media) was easy. You created an ad that said ‘Buy this from me’ and put it into a newspaper, a magazine or online.

Whether you were selling scuba gear, holiday accommodation or bookkeeping services, the process was more or less the same.

So what happened when social media came along? You opened an account for your business and started doing the same thing as you’d always done: ‘Buy this from me, buy this from me.’

Except it doesn’t work. Why?

Because when people use social media, it’s not like reading a magazine or brochure. They don’t just want information coming at them, they want to exchange information. And they want to talk about things that interest them.

So stop selling

Here are some of the selling actions that annoy people on social media:

  • Promoting your product and service in every post you put out.
  • Hijacking hashtags and Twitter chats simply to promote yourself.
  • Sending people Direct Messages on Twitter, saying ‘Thank for following us, now come and buy our stuff’ (or words to that effect).

Take a look at the Dorset firms that use a lot of social media, like Goldhill Organics or Dorset Cereals. Are all their posts pushing their products? No, they're not. They often share posts from others and while they often mention their own products, there are no pleas for you to buy from them.

And start telling

What’s the difference between selling and telling?

Selling is: ‘Buy from me.’ Telling is: ‘This is what we do and why we do it.’ Telling is often about stories.

A great example of telling not selling
A great example of telling not selling

Ways that you can ‘tell’ on social media include:

  • Sharing about the background to your products, such as where you source from and why.
  • Talking about the people in your business: staff, suppliers, customers.
  • Post pictures of the wonderful area we live and work in. Dorset is so photogenic!
  • Encouraging discussion about subjects that could interest your followers and have nothing to do with your business.

People are increasingly making choices about who they buy from based on how much a business cares about the environment, its staff and its customers.

By ‘telling’ you can encourage people to feel positive about your business, increasing the chances of them buying from you.

The bad news is that ‘telling’ takes time.


The good news is that social media makes it really easy to follow businesses that are interesting and ignore those that just sell.

So be sure to be interesting!

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