This post is for someone looking to sell a product or service with social media engagement. Yes I know social media is not for selling– but any professional or business who is spending time and money on earned media is expecting some form of ROI.

When marketing for someone to buy your product or service you are always looking for ways to find or move a buyer’s intent. Intent to learn more about your product or more important the intent to purchase.

Here lies the problem with social engagement– lack of intent.

Social media provides the best opportunity for ongoing touch points. Reinforcement of trust and consistency. Also it’s ability to create greater awareness and emotional interaction points. These are some of the most powerful benefits of properly engaging the social space.

Also understanding that social media is all about the soft sell is important but let’s get beyond that for this post.

Why Marketers Love the Web

One of the reasons why the web hit critical mass was that for the first time you could measure the intent of a purchaser. You could then direct ad spend dollars towards what can be deemed transactional searches. To go deeper on this I suggest you check out the post that from AimClear on Query Intent.

So the web gave the ability for intent to be determined based on transactional and clarification keywords. This is a good thing. Now enter social media.

Why Are People On Social Media?

At its core people are on social media to connect with friends and family. They are there to have fun, to escape. It’s key to keep in mind that people haven’t joined Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or YouTube to connect with a brand or company. This point can’t be stressed enough.

When someone goes to Facebook or is on Twitter seldom if at ever are they there to purchase something. Usually this is the last thing on their to mind.

Social media works great for an additional touch point. Another opportunity to create trust and to reinforce consistency from your company or your brand. It’s also great for awareness.

Friends and Family and Your Business

Another powerful element of social engagement for business or an entrepreneur are your interactions happen with someone in a stream amongst their friends and families. So done correctly your messages will be tolerated with the interactions, the pictures, videos, and sharing they are having with people they truly care about.

This is a huge element of social interactions that I believe are important. While this is important it still does not drive to intent to purchase. So when engaging in the social space your interactions have in alignment with what we have spoke about thus far.

Why all this talk with intent? If you keep what I’ve discussed here in mind when you do interactions within the social space you will be ultimately more effective. Your messages and interactions will fit into the expectations of the core users of each social platform you are engaging.

What to do with This?

Before you do an update in social media ask yourself if this message plays towards intent. For instance, if you send out an update about a coupon you are running ask yourself a quick questions. Are doing this because it is easy for you or are you doing it because you believe you can move your audience (followers) towards intent to purchase?

Does this fall into their expectations from you or your company? How does this update play within the other updates they will see at that time? Ask yourself so what? Get into the mind of your audience and ask why should I care?

I know I bounced around a bit in this post I discussed this a little more in my podcast Social Media Intent and Emotional Selling.