When Social Media Isn’t Enough

Many social media-users, including myself, tend to think of social media as a magical cure-all in communications. I’ve blogged about it before – how intensely I believe that for a brand to be successful today, they need to have a strong social media presence. But a few weeks ago, I had an experience that made me realize there is still more value in one-on-one communication.

My sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, is hosting its 26th annual Franklin 5k this weekend. For the race, each member of ZTA has to sell 12 shirts. At the beginning of the semester, I wrote eight letters to friends and family who I wanted to invite to the race. The letters took an hour to write, and the whole time I did it I was rolling my eyes because I could have just sent these people an invitation via Facebook, but I figured there was something to be said about putting an active effort into getting people to buy shirts and register for the race.

Out of the eight people I sent letters to, six of them registered for the race. Half of them called me to ask if they could also make a donation. This was awesome – but now I needed to sell six more shirts.

I figured selling six more shirts would be easy if I just made some posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So I began doing this immediately.

One day, I posted an Instagram promoting the 5k and telling people to sign up for the race or buy a shirt.  This was two weeks ago – and 154 people liked the photo! I then shared the picture on Facebook where it received 20 likes. I just knew by this point that I had reached my goal number of t-shirt sells.

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But when I went to check the spreadsheet to make sure I had sold 12 t-shirts, I realized I had still only sold six. Even though my posts on Instagram and Facebook drew in almost 200 likes, my social media promotions had gotten me nowhere.

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Since then, I’ve resorted to texting and calling individual people to sell shirts. I think there’s something to be said about personal connections in sales – with a product like a promotional t-shirt or a 5k registration, you have to give people a reason to buy it. The reason probably won’t be that they found your Facebook post intriguing.

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