Is Social Selling An Oxymoron?

By August 21, 2015 Social Media 2 Comments
Is Social Selling An Oxymoron?

“Social Selling” has become one of the hottest “buzzwords” when discussing how social media can help to grow your business. In fact, it is rapidly evolving from just a phrase into a major segment of the marketing industry.

But at first glance does this term even make logical sense? For many, the words “social” and “selling” don’t even belong in the same sentence. So does that make it an oxymoron?

What is An Oxymoron?

At this point we should all be clear on exactly what the term oxymoron means. And, according to the good people over at Wikipedia they describe it as follows ….

“An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory.”

Examples of an oxymoron are jumbo shrimp, bittersweet, passive aggressive, deafening silence and growing smaller.

So based upon that definition do these two words belong together in the same sentence?

What is Selling?

Now let’s take a look at the meaning of selling. The word selling means different things to people and that is why you see such a plethora of definitions. Here are some of the most common…

  • To persuade someone to take action
  • The exchange of goods for a negotiated sum of money
  • Finding a need and filling that need

And perhaps one of my favourites….”selling is the process of making dreams come true”.

If you believe that selling has anything to do with persuading, intimidating or manipulating people then you are still trying to sell the “Old School “way.  (Alec Baldwin illustrated “old school” as well as anyone in the “Always Be Closing” scene from the movie  “Glengarry Glen Ross.) And, if that is the case then social media and social selling are not for you. In fact, they will be a complete and total waste of your time.

If you haven’t yet viewed that movie scene, you can take check it out here  (WARNING – explicit language).

So why are we even trying to combine these two words?

Perhaps, because for a large number of people in business, social media is still trying gain some traction and respect as a valid marketing tool.

It is still often misunderstood. So, maybe by connecting the words “social” with “selling” it helps add to social’s credibility or provides it with some clear value to the business world. After all, it only stands to reason that since we all want more sales, and if social can help in that area, then we need to take a more serious look at it and perhaps even make it part of our everyday marketing strategy.

What is Social Selling?

So, back to our original question. Is “Social Selling” an oxymoron?

In my opinion, yes and no.

Yes, if all you are trying to do is use social media as a flawed sales tool for “closing the deal” or “getting the order”. Simply, tweeting and posting to flog your products or services with little concern for adding value or helping anyone other than yourself will not, and does not work.

But, if you believe that selling today is all about creating and nurturing relationships. All with the genuine intent of helping to solve problems and provide value then social media, and more precisely, social selling should be a key component of your marketing strategy.

Today, we don’t want to be sold. But, we do want to buy from those with whom we have a relationship. In other words, from those we have come to know, like and trust. And, if you use social media, as it is intended, to develop new relationships, provide helpful advice and information, build brand awareness, generate and nurture leads, provide good customer service then social selling is not an oxymoron at all.

In order for social media to continue being taken seriously as a business tool it is important that we continually help people understand the correct, and “best practices”, use for social media, and in turn, social selling.

Finally, I thought I would share some words of wisdom about social selling and business. They are from Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble; a wonderful CRM, of which I am a happy customer. He describes the 5 “E’s” of “Social Business” this way.

  1. Educate with Content
  2. Enchant by being Relevant
  3. Engage with Authenticity
  4. Embrace with Intent
  5. Empower Your Customers

As always, I would love to hear your comments. Until next time.


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  • Jon Ferrara says:


    I love the post as it causes people to rethink what sales is and how social plays a role.

    I think Service is the new Sales.

    The more people you can help gow the more you will grow.

    Help more people become better smarter faster at scale.

    To do this you need to be top of mind as a trusted advisor who can help them in the areas of promise of you products and services.

    That’s where the 5 E’s come in. Educate, Enchant, Engage, Empoer Embrace your customers.

    Remember “If you teach people to fish, they’ll figure out you sell fishing poles.”



    CEO Nimble – The Simply Smarter Social Relationship Manager

  • Steve Loates says:

    Thanks, Jon.
    Great advice as always.

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