Inside of the Sustainable Freelancer someone asked a question that I've never answered directly in the previous 257 episodes of the show.

This is a great question for a lot of people thinking about how to use social media for their business.

Simply put, I don't like saying this, but it applies. The answer is, it depends.

I'm going to put aside the paid ads on the platform because that's a different game altogether and really just stick to answering the question in the context of organic engagement.

Organic Engagement

You have to remember that it's a social network, the key word here is "social".

So that lends itself to the awareness stage, or visibility as this person puts it.

That doesn't mean you can't use it for sales, but from my experience, sales needs to be at a deeper level on the platform, say in DMs, Lives, IGTV and that sort of thing.

I say "it depends" also because I think the product/service you are selling has to make sense to where the person is on Instagram.

If you are trying to sell full web builds, or branding, I think that's going to be tough to sell on any social platform, even Instagram.

Not saying that it can't be done, because I've done it. Which I'll explain in just a minute.

What I am saying is that the buyer who's scrolling through their feed or viewing stories of people they follow aren't in the buying mode. They could be standing in line waiting to buy milk, or in the back of an Uber.

They are in consumption mode and most likely in some sort of passive state of mind.

Now if you are selling a product, such as t-shirts, jewelry, that certainly works because of the visual elements there.

If you have a lower tier service or product, say that or a similar price as a t-shirt, then that too may work for you too.

Since you are most likely selling services, this could be something like a mini-course or an ebook.

"Selling on social media"

Back to how I sold a higher priced item on social media.

As you know, my social platform of choice is Twitter. I've built up a following over there, from what Twitter tells me, for the past 12 years.

Twitter in my opinion is even harder to sell on than Instagram. Especially higher priced items. Simply because it's a text-based platform. Sure there are images you can attached, but it's text-first and the percentages of selling something for a few hundred dollars or higher with a one or two sentences is pretty low.

My following is not huge but it's an engaged, which means that I've built up trust.

Of those that follow me, many of which I've had conversations with. I personally greet anyone new that follows me. I'm highly engaged there.

Over the 12 years on Twitter, I never once pitched through a tweet "hey everyone, I have this thing to sell, it costs $750, DM me to get it" - just never happened.

Until January 2019, where one of the more popular vendors I work with on a consistent basis changed their pricing, who they were marketing to, and to be honest, changed the direction of the company overall from a good portion of people who had been their customers in the past.

Honestly, it's the free will of any business to do something like that. However, the way in which you do it is a delicate balance with your existing customers. Obviously this pricing change made lots of people upset.

When people get upset, they complain. When people complain, they take it to the social networks.

Twitter was all ablaze with people frustrated, upset, confused, and angry.

In fact, I just wanted to help and so I tweeted this first. Then 4 hours later, I tweeted the pitch (with a typo in there too).

Seeing as I had a service that could help people move from this platform to another, I threw that into a tweet and pushed send.

Because of the trust that I built on the platform, the relationships I have formed, I had many conversations, 10 turned into sales opportunities and 4 actually took me up on the offer.

It can be done, but obviously due to the opportunity that presented itself with the market, on top of the engaged following that I have, the sales were able to happen.

Whether Instagram is your platform of choice or something else, put yourself into the mindset of the buyer and what they could be thinking about when on these platforms.

Are they on line buying milk? Or are they actively in buying mode because of a market change?

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