TSH 18: Stop using your organic socials to sell products

social media Nov 20, 2023

Reading time: 2 mins 30 seconds

People don't want to be sold to on social media. 

People primarily use social media to be entertained, and informed. This is why we have 'paid socials' and 'organic socials' - and you're strategy shouldn't be the same.

Paid social = selling

Organic social = entertaining or informing

Too many brands have organic social feeds that look the same as their paid social ads - this strategy doesn't work, you'll get low engagement, and declining or slow follower growth.

In today's day and age, you need social media to be able to sustain a long term ecommerce business, and saying you aren't good at socials doesn't cut it - you need to get good at it.

Your social media pillars

Every brand on socials should have pillars, which are the foundations of your content. If people want to be informed or entertained, your pillars dictate how you should inform or entertain them.

Here's an example of three pillars from a made up ecommerce brand:



Pillar 1: Product

In this example, the product pillar is usually the worst performing pillar. How often have you seen it - you post a product image, and the engagement is low. This comes back to the reason why people spend their valuable time scrolling through social media - to be entertained or informed. If they want to learn more about your product, they'll open your email or click on your ad.

Product probably has to be a part of your content strategy, but be prepared for it to be your worst performing, so you may consider posting it less frequently  than your other pillars, or crossing over subtly into your other pillars that are likely to get higher engagement. 


Pillar 2: Education

I personally adopt this pillar, which is part of my 'give and they shall follow' approach. If you're able to position yourself (or your brand) as a voice of authority on a certain subject, people will follow you for that reason, and we know that once you've built a community, monetizing it becomes the easier part.

This pillar can also cleverly showcase your product - Look at the way Gopro are able to showcase a brilliant user generated photo, activated via a competition, to then use the caption to give a tip on how to use a Gopro to get this sort of shot.


Look how brand home improvement store Lowes uses their Instagram content to help teach people DIY hacks - this is a brilliant example of the education pillar which subtly crosses over into the products they sell.

Another example of the education pillar is technology giant Intel, who demonstrate the practical use of AI in helping farmers in India recover from ruined crops, or the Brazilian company helping to save waste by recycling old computers. 


Pillar 3: BTS (Behind the Scenes)

If you're ever not sure if documenting behind the scenes content of you and your team doing your thing is going to get traction, just remind yourself that Big Brother and Goggle Box exists on TV. People want to be let in behind the curtains.

Here's how streetwear label Represent Co have turned their BTS footage into a compelling documentary on YouTube, that also serves to generate brand awareness.

Here's another example of a brand using an organic social media strategy to promote BTS mixed with product - look how my client, apparel brand Geedup show a seemingly innocuous meeting being photographed and put on Instagram, while showing a brand new shoe prototype in the background, which encourages questions and discussion among followers.


Here are my two Social Media Pillars

My personal strategy is simple and effective. 90% of the time I post free tips about ecommerce, and 10% of the time I mention a service I offer - if that. I don't use organic socials to sell, I use those channels to educate, because I believe that if people follow me, and they like what I say, they'll find their way through the funnel to purchase something that resonates with them.

In organic socials, I never try to sell anything.

The concept is all about having people first, product second. It's much easier to find product for the people, rather than people for the product, and it's likely to result in a much more profitable business as your dependency on paid social advertising decreases, due to your strong organic following. Some brands are so strong on organic socials, they spend barely anything on paid media. Look at my client Budgy Smuggler for example, who uses humour as a pillar, and has such an entertaining Instagram page, that contributes to the brand needing to spend only around 5% of its monthly sales, on paid ads.

So our job in organic socials is not to sell products, it's to build a following, and drive engagement - which by the way, can help your middle of funnel paid ads, when you're creating audiences based around who has interacted with your socials. 



What is the common theme here? Almost none of this content has to do with product being sold. At least not directly. 

I'm not saying you can't talk about your products on organic socials, but what I am saying is, you can't do it too often, and when you do, you should try and be entertaining or informative (or whatever your determined pillar is).

In around 2010-2016, Australian online retailer Showpo grew from a spare bedroom in Sydney, to turning over $80m a year. During a period of that time I was the Head of Operations, and one thing I noticed was the brand's regular use of 'filler' content, involved lots of puppy dogs, cats and lots of memes. Now we didn't do this because we loved dogs and cats (but who doesn't) - we did this because these are the things that drove engagement and followers and basically became one of our organic social pillars. 

You've got to find the pillars that resonate with you, and your intended audience, and I encourage you to reflect on that as part of developing a robust organic social media strategy. Above all, remember that your organic socials are more similar to Netflix, than they are a TV ad, and part of the reason that streaming platforms like Netflix became popular, is that there are no ads.

Remember, people first, product second. 


Until next week,





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