When we asked how to start doing online marketing we saw that the traditional hard-sell method of one message fits all is based on creating a need (singular) while good online marketing branding works with answering needs (plural).

The time and energy we use to find and track online company mentions and the needs/questions as expressed by our users or potential clients is time we invest in finding needs vs. creating needs. As such our investment is transposed: there's no loss of time or money.

Can I Use Social Media To Sell Online?

You found someone who either mentioned your company or product or expressed a need you can answer.

Traditionally speaking at this point you would jump on the prospect, start your sales pitch, create or confirm the need and then offer your product as The Solution.

You can still do that in the new model and it certainly will lead to sales.

Why? Simply because you're there at the right moment (the need!) at the right time (now!).

But it's a one-on-one model that has no built-in growth. You're still only talking to immediate, first tier prospects and clients.

Social Media for Marketing through Helpful Content

Using the Twitter tracking tools discussed we find this tweet:

The mushroom strategy now is to turn this need into Helpful Content.

We can publicly reply to this tweet with questions like; what do you need to backup? Programs or documents? Do you need to have archived versions available?

Down the Twitter conversation line you can introduce your backup solution but beware " if another solution is better suited to her needs, say so!

You can also use the tweet as the seed of an article or blog post: "Online Backup for the Office". In it you can answer the questions you asked Ms. Keyes. What are the differences between private and office/business backups?

The key is to be genuinely helpful and put the other's needs first

Recommended follow-up reading:

Transforming a Company Blog Into a Community Destination (Elizabeth Able)
Microblogging: The Internets Best Brand Advocate Builder (David Snyder)
How to Build Up and Participate in Social Network Communities (Kimberly Krause Berg)
Twitter Case Study of a Commercial Non Big Brand (Rae Hoffmann)
Building Your Online Credibility (Celine Roque)

Images courtesy of eschipul and, via a screenshot of her tweet, Audrey Keyes