Stop Selling. Start Building

Why do people use social media? From Twitter to Facebook, there is only one reason: To express themselves.


Sahail Ashraf

3 years ago | 2 min read

Why do people use social media? From Twitter to Facebook, there is only one reason:

To express themselves.

Even on LinkedIn, which is a so-called ‘professional social media site’ you see a lot more happening on the personal profiles than you do on the company pages. People are people, and they can’t stop being people. So they express themselves, develop their personalities and show their ‘difference’ through social media.

But how can you market to that?

It’s actually quite simple. Once you know that people are happy to be themselves on social media, you can adapt your marketing to them. You can talk to them.

Sometimes, we forget that social media is meant to be social. This kills our business, slowly. We forget that people use social media to express themselves, display their interests and passions, and establish who they ‘are’. This means they’re not the slightest bit interested in your latest service feature, or the new product you’ve got lined up.

Instead, in the back of their minds as they see your latest update that is supposed to be ‘social’ but is little more than a 140 character sales pitch, they’re thinking:

This is spam. What is in it for me?

You see, the most important person on social media is the user. The profile conveys their uniqueness, and their updates strengthen their difference. Each user is actively telling you what makes them happy, what they want in their life, and how they have got to where they are.

Each user is saying: talk to me, not my wallet.

Hey, wanna be my friend?

In the real world, if you meet someone new and you are wondering if they could be a good friend or just an acquaintance, what checklist do you use?

  1. Have they similar interests to me?
  2. Are they easy to understand/relate to?
  3. Are they likeable?
  4. Could they help me in any way (tangible or otherwise)?

And that’s the checklist people use on social media. We’re not talking about the ‘empty connections’ that we all make when we’re trying to fill up our follower list on Twitter (don’t say you don’t do this, we all have at least once), but instead the connections that we want to check in on, and perhaps even meet.

If you satisfy the checklist criteria outlined above, people will link up with you. They will listen to what you have to say.

And when you can help them (item 4 on the checklist) they’ll let you know.

Success on social media is never about quantity, but instead about quality. That’s why Seth Godin, one of the most influential marketers in the world, doesn’t use Twitter (he uses a placeholder, or at least he did the last time I checked). He has said that he can’t possibly ‘know’ all those people.

And he’s right.

And you know what? He actually replies personally to every email he gets. I know this because he has replied to mine.

That’s making a connection. That’s talking to someone.

Think about what you’re doing on social (including this platform). Are you actually making real relationships? Or are you trying to build a list that will come back and bite you in the nether regions at some point in the future?

If you run a business, there are only four words you need to think about on social media.

Stop selling. Start building.


Created by

Sahail Ashraf

I am a writer for brands. I create copy that drives revenue and helps businesses grow. I also run an amazing website called







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