Are Consumers Ready to Buy Into Social Selling?

As much as some brands such as Dell have been able to sell products and services via social media, the general rule of thumb is that social media is, at best, a soft sales medium.

It means brands will not enjoy much success if they try to drive sales via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et al. Those who try to do it could not only not get much traction but be rebuffed by consumers, who apparently don’t want to buy stuff via social media.

This belief has been hammered home by how some high-profile brands such as J.C. Penney, The Gap and Nordstrom have closed their stores on Facebook, even though Facebook appears to be a popular advertising medium to consumers.

But here’s an interesting question: As social media ROI becomes a more important metric as brands look to justify spending, does it mean that social selling will gain more traction?

In other words, will brands look to drive more direct sales even if means there might be some pushback from consumers? Will brands employ patience and pragmatism to wear down the reluctance by consumers to make transactions via social media.

For this change to happen, more brands will have to bite the bullet and, at the same time, there will need to be a cultural shift among consumers in how they see the role and place of social media. And it will likely take time to happen.

This is not to suggest there will be a huge shift away from Websites being the primary e-commerce vehicle. But it may be that social media becomes a bigger part of the overall mix as brands decide to stay the course rather than concede social media is only a “soft sell” channel.

What do you think? Can social media become more of a hard sales medium?

For more thoughts on social sales, check out this blog post by Paul Gillin on how IBM is changing how some of its salespeople are doing their jobs.