“People Buy From People!” Or Do They?

We’ve all heard this phrase. It’s bouncing all around the internet, and is making business owners feel compelled to share details of our own personal lives all over our businesses social media channels.

The principle is that by sharing ourselves on our social media, other people can get to know us and trust us, which in turn will give them the confidence to buy from our companies. But is that really the right way to go?

Only a few weeks ago I read a story about how a fellow business owners’ kids were sought out and threatened by a disgruntled customer. They were only able to do this because of the amount of detail that was shared online. This was a massive eye opener and the business owner in question bitterly regretted sharing so much, just to make a sale.

Do we really need to share?

This is an extreme case, of course, but it raised the question, how much should we share, and do we really need to share anything at all, in order that our customers will trust us enough to buy from us?

If people really do “buy from people”, then how is it that we are losing so many “in-person” businesses from our high street, and shifting online. How do we explain the virtual extinction of independent travel agents on our high street? I bought my first car insurance policy from a high street “shop”, what happened to them?

There are any number of friendly little book shops up and down the country that will gladly get you any book you like. They’ll also ask you how your day has been, or even how your aunt Marjorie is getting on after her op. But, these shops are dwindling fast too.

By comparison, Jeff Bezos and his Amazon machine are particularly unlikable. He doesn’t care about your day, and his staff probably won’t ask you about your auntie. In fact, he is so insensitive that he went on telly and personally thanked Amazons customers for paying for his exorbitant trip to space. This caused a massive wave of hatred, but eleventy billion people still buy from him every week!

So, maybe we don’t always need to personally connect with someone to do business with them!

Sometimes, it’s just too peopley!

We certainly are drawn to people that share our values and passions, but we can also be seduced by a lack of people. We love doing our own research, browsing without commitment, and making our own choices, in our own time.

Often we feel like we are being watched, or pressured for a decision, even when we aren’t. We hate to feel like we are taking peoples time, especially people we know, when we just want to shop around.

The success of services like JustEat proves that we often much prefer to sit back, click a few buttons, and wait for the magic to happen. In fact, 11million of us now prefer to do it that way! Would the local Chinese takeaway owner really do better if he shared his holiday snaps with us, or do we prefer a good set of reviews, great food, and on-time delivery?

In fact, some people are actively put off by familiarity and over sharing of personal information. Personal service providers such as counsellors, masseurs, and therapists might benefit from maintaining a more professional stance. Is it easier to open up to a stranger, than someone you feel you know, or knows you? How about showing off that weird boil or skin abnormality?

Trying too hard can also backfire. We’re very good at spotting fakery and pushing ourselves too far to appear likeable can do more to erode trust, than gain it.

Trust can be built through sharing, but it is also gained when we believe someone, or something, shares our values, and can be reliable, competent, and honest in their work. But, what does that have to do with whether I am a red or white wine kinda gal, or how I spend my days off? Unless, I am a wine producer, or an experience provider, maybe? Fulfilling promises, being knowledgeable, and demonstrating our values are also excellent ways to prove you are trustworthy.

What I’m saying is…

People do buy from people. But, they also buy from faceless companies that offer good value, takeaways that have awesome reviews, retail giants that offer easy ways to compare products and one click ordering, and copy writers that offer the cheapest hourly rate

There are many ways to build trust with clients; sharing “yourself” on social media is just one of them. But it doesn’t suit everyone – customer or business.

People choose who to do business with based on many factors, but knowing the CEO ‘s favourite breed of dog, isn’t always the best, or only way! How many people even know who the CEO of Tesco is, or even the manager of their local store? And yet, people still shop there every week.

If you want to share, and you feel it’s right for your business and clientele, then go for it. But, don’t feel you have to. If you are not comfortable with it, then there is another way!

What do you think?


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