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Archive for the ‘LinkedIn’ Category

crowd by James CridlandThe true value in using social media to find more customers for your direct sales business comes from going where the people are.  It’s a basic rule of sales, based on the law of averages…the more people you have access to, the more likely you are to find people who want to buy from you.  Unfortunately, some direct sellers translate this into thinking they need to join EVERY social media site that’s out there.  People often ask me, “is there a way to update all these sites at the same time? I need to have time to work on my business too!  And do I need to be on EVERY site my prospects are on?”

These are GREAT questions.  If you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, you know that I recommend that you avoid services such as ping.fm that allow you to update your status on multiple social media sites at the same time. The audiences for each of these social networking sites is different, and the way you should be interacting with them is different.  Plus, relationship building requires your presence.

But then how do you ever get the rest of your work done if you have to visit each site individually?  If you’re in direct sales, you need to be meeting with customers, hostess coaching and doing parties (if you’re in party plan), providing customer service and follow-up in order to generate rebookings/reorders, etc.  There are simply not enough hours in the day to add a multitude of social media sites and build relationships on all of them well.

schedule by jrvetstonYou know what?  You are absolutely right.  There AREN’T enough hours in the day to be on every social media site there is, and still run your business well.  And that’s why you should be choosy.  As the title of this post says, less is more.  Rather than trying to find every single prospect that may possibly exist on every single social networking site that’s out there (and then not be able to do the relationship-building activities required to turn them from prospects into customers), instead focus on just a few sites with the highest population of your targeted niche market.

In my opinion, the best sites for direct sellers to focus on are Facebook (#1…biggest social networking site with the most people who are mostly in our main demographic), Twitter (when you’ve dried up that group of family & friends and are ready to build relationships with new people), and LinkedIn (where you can connect with people that may become business building recruits.)  You may also find niche-specific groups that are specific to your target market, where you’ll be able to build the relationships that lead to success.

Now this is not to say that new sites won’t emerge in the future (and when I know about them you can be SURE I’ll write about there here, so be sure you’re subscribed.)  But for now, if you’re just getting your feet wet in social media, start with Facebook.  Most connections are based on an underlying relationship that’s already established, and it’s a great and comfortable way to get started in social networking.  Plus the viral-sharing capabilities in Facebook make it a great way to share information without spamming anyone.  (And DON’T be one of those direct sellers posting things like “Join my business!” “We’re having a SALE!” “I need 2 more hostesses this month.” People don’t like it and they will ignore you in large measure.  While you may get 1 or 2 customers from this strategy, you will gain a lot more over time if you skip the spam and employ a thoughtful content-marketing strategy.)

So remember, less is more!  Don’t join every social networking site there is and overwhelm yourself.  You also don’t want to get so busy with social networking that you forget your income-producing activities!  By being strategic in the sites that you join, you’ll experience a lot more success in your social media marketing.

Now it’s your turn!  What sites are you a part of?  How do you manage the time and relationships?  How does it relate to your overall business?  Would LOVE to read your comments below!

Jennifer Fong

Photo Credits: James Cridland, jrvetson (Creative Commons license on Flickr)

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Guest Post by Julie Anne Jones

I’m going to be brutally honest with you…when I first began working with Jennifer Fong, I was certain that the whole “social media thing” was going to drain my time and stress my already packed schedule beyond it’s limits. Since we were putting together a course to offer to my client list called “Social Media Made Simple for Direct Sales Professionals,” and since I was the moderator, I had no choice but to at least be somewhat educated around the topic of using social media as a business tool. But I’ll honestly tell you, I probably wasn’t the most willing student Jennifer’s ever worked with.

We started with the one area where I already had a prescence – Facebook. I had a fairly active profile and a group called Direct Sales Success Made Easy with Julie Anne Jones that was filling up fairly quicky. I really didn’t know exactly what to do with all these people who were friending me and joining my group, but I was open to learning. Jen helped me tweak my profile and shared some simple tips for connecting with and supporting the members of my group.

Next we moved to blogging, LinkedIn, and Twitter. What I loved about what Jen was teaching me was the fact that her strategy for building relationships online so closely mirrors what I teach direct sellers to do in their businesses and at their parties; give people value, be authentic and build the relationship without trying to sell them anything up front.

Throughout the course of learning how to use these tools and this philosophy, I noticed a few things started to happen:

  • I was getting increased traffice (as in DOUBLE THE HITS) to my website
  • I was adding followers on Facebook and Twitter like crazy
  • My blog was getting a ton of hits and people were seeking me out after having read it

In short, my business was exploding! And all with, really and truly, I swear, only about a 30 – 45 minute investment each day. So, while I know I’m still in the beginning stages of learning about how to use the power of social media to grow my business and support my followers, I’m a converted believer. I don’t know exactly what my marketing strategy for my company will be in the coming years, but I do know that social media will always be a strong part of that plan.

So, the bottom line is, I’m an absolute believer now. Before I found Jennifer and her social media training, I’d been saying “I need to find a way to reach my niche audience on line” but could never figure out where they were “hanging out.” These social media tools have lead me to my niche and expanded my reach to new consultants and companies.
Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales coach and trainer and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales.
As a former direct sales professional, Julie worked a party plan business for several years, consistently holding three parties per week and winning national awards yearly. She also built a National multi level marketing team through internet networking. For the past 6 years, she has focused entirely on coaching and training other leaders within the direct sales industry through live training as well as extensive webinar and tele-course training.

To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, visit her at www.julieannejones.com or check out her blog at http://julieannejones.com/blog.

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Social media marketing is changing the direct sales landscape.  For anyone paying attention, it is obvious that the companies and individual home based consultants that are employing a comprehensive social media strategy are seeing results.  Direct sales companies and consultants can make money using this new media, when taking advantage of the viral marketing and conversational elements of these sales techniques.  An excellent example of a company employing a successive social media strategy is Scentsy.

coverI had the privilege of interviewing Scentsy’s Web Marketing Strategist, Dave Sattler, and John Curtis, PR Strategist, last week, and finding out how social media marketing has been instrumental in the success that Scentsy has experienced.

Scentsy was founded in 2004, and currently has around 30,000 consultants.  It has experienced phenomenal growth, which the company largely attributes to its culture of empowering its consultants.  Orville Thompson, founder and CEO of Scentsy, believes strongly that it is the consultants that built Scentsy, and the company puts a lot of trust and equity in the hands of its consultants.

So what does this have to do with social media?  Everything.  One thing that I noticed while interviewing Dave and John is the trust that Scentsy puts in its consultants to use social media in ways that are beneficial to the business, without detracting.  “Our consultants are our main evangelists,” says Dave.  “We want to give them the tools that they need to be successful.  Viral is free on the Internet. By giving your evangelists a recruiting video to share online, you amplify the spreadability of that tool beyond what distributors can do with handouts.  It’s a lot more comfortable to share a video online than to hand someone a CD and send them home to watch it.

scentsy_utube

Scentsy's YouTube Channel

“We don’t really define what our consultants can and can’t do (online.)  Instead, we provide what’s easy for them to do, and a large majority will do that.  For example, we provide videos that are easy to share on YouTube.  And then we really trust our consultants with our brand equity, and allow them a lot of flexibility.  What we’ve noticed is that most people do what’s easy.”  So by making it easy for consultants to use company-provided social media tools, Scentsy is able to provide a consistent message that builds its brand while empowering its consultants.

Even with its flexible approach, Scentsy still provides policies and procedures that guide what its consultants can do online.  For example, Scentsy allows its consultants to have one website beyond the company’s replicated website.  The return on investment (ROI) is that these sites send traffic to the corporate-provided sites.  Scentsy consultants must register their sites for review, but Dave states that the company has not had a problem with inappropriate content.  “Our consultants want to have sites that benefit their businesses.  We have the same goal,” he says.

Scentsy's Facebook Page

Scentsy's Facebook Page

The Scentsy approach balances the core business of parties with online tools.  Dave notes that many of their consultants do very little online.  Scentsy makes online tools available to its consultants, without pushing them.  “Those (consultants) on the internet that want to use the tools will find them.”  “Scentsy intentionally steers clear of defining how consultants should manage their Scentsy businesses. We don’t want to give the impression that they need to operate their business by tweeting or Facebooking.

“We provide trainings at different stages of a consultant’s career with Scentsy.  At the most appropriate stage, we go into Web Marketing tools they can use to connect with and build their team.”

The tools that Scentsy currently provides to their consultants that seem to provide the most value include:

In addition to using social media to share its message, Scentsy also taps into the power of online conversations to gather market insights.  “Valuable insights are available by engaging on the web – brand perception, demographic data about your evangelists, and insights for product development,” says Dave.

It is clear that Scentsy invests a good amount of resources into its social media strategy.  Dave invests most of his hours in the company’s social media work, and there are also in-house copywriters, web designers, and the art direction team that all contribute to the social media resources that the company makes available.  Yet these resources are also shared among other facets of the business.  Dave notes that social media is deeply integrated with the company’s overall marketing strategy…thus the sharing of resources.

Scentsy's Safe Candles Corporate Blog

Scentsy's Safe Candles Corporate Blog

So how does Scentsy measure its ROI?  Dave says, “We are still working on fine-tuning an accurate ROI model for social media. Web traffic, Twitter followers, and Facebook fans don’t translate directly into ROI. It is hard to know how many of the tools we provide in the social media sphere are used by consultants to find sales or recruit. With no conversion to the site’s objectives, traffic is useless.

“What we are doing is using web analytics to understand what drives traffic and to observe conversion rates. We are currently developing ways to make a tighter correlation between our web marketing and an ROI.  We should be able to better understand what the most valuable tools are for consultants. Beyond that, we follow interactions and usage down a weighted funnel:

  1. Engagement:  How much of what is published is followed, viewed, or shared?
  2. Behavior:  How much of what is shared drives traffic to the conversion site?
  3. Conversion:  How much of traffic converts, e.g. buys, hosts, joins?
  4. Loyalty:  How many that convert then recommend?”

As a result of its social media strategy, here are just some of the results that Scentsy has experienced:

  1. Scentsy’s Facebook fan page has more than 6,000 fans. (Recently Scentsy posted its company convention as an event on its fan page, and over 1/3 of the people coming to convention this year confirmed their attendance on the page.  This provides valuable market research data to Scentsy even before people actually register.)
  2. Sales from online events have increased. (Scentsy provides replicated websites for its consultants that allow customers to assign a purchase to a specific party.)
  3. Several of Scentsy’s social media sites are in the Top 10 sources for traffic to its corporate site. Says Dave, “Those that come from social spaces do spend more time and look at more pages than other referrers.”

One of the biggest recommendations that Dave shares for other direct selling companies considering a social media strategy is to realize that “social media is just one part of a broader Web marketing strategy.”

So what are some social media mistakes that Dave suggests companies should avoid?

  1. Not using web analytics on everything you do.  Put some kind of web metrics tool on your sites so you can see how it is relevant to other web traffic out there.
  2. Creating sites void of conversion objectives. It’s important to have a clear idea about what you want visitors to a particular site to do.  Without conversion objectives, the site does not provide value to your overall marketing strategy.
  3. Taking on web marketing without a clear understanding of your core brand attributes and the perception of your brand.  It’s hard to contribute to conversations about your brand, modify that brand, and create conversations if you don’t know what people are already thinking.
  4. Blogging just because everyone else is.  Make sure you understand ways to make it useful. There is a lot you can do with content and community that provides an ROI for your brand.

By leveraging the power of social media marketing, Scentsy is providing the industry with a model of a company poised for success with coming generations.  As more and more prospective consultants search for opportunities that allow them to leverage ALL available marketing opportunities, Scentsy is positioning itself as a leader prepared to provide its consultants with the tools they need to succeed.  This results in success for the company as a whole.

To learn more about Scentsy, visit them online at http://www.scentsy.com.

Many thanks to Scentsy for sharing their ideas so freely!  If you are a direct sales company that would like to have your company featured here, please email me. I would love to hear what you think of Scentsy’s social media marketing strategy in the comments!

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While there are many tools available for social media marketing and social networking, the biggies that emerge are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  While it may be tempting to view these tools as all pretty much the same thing, they have distinct differences, and as a direct sales professional, it is important to understand this difference.

by shashiBellamkonda

by shashiBellamkonda

First, a definition.  Social networking tools enable people to communicate with one another online.  People can set up profiles, find others with similar interests, and then build relationships.  As a direct sales professional, a great profile can be the key to that successful first impression that leads to a long-term relationship and prospects for your business.

But too often, I see people treating these tools as if they are all the same, and I think this is a mistake.  Tools such as TweetDeck and ping.fm exacerbate this problem, allowing people to update various tools with the same status update, all at once.  The problem with this approach is that different tools attract different kinds of people, and so you should consider using these tools for very different purposes, especially when you begin your foray into social networking and social media marketing.

For example, Facebook is an EXCELLENT tool for connecting or reconnecting with family and friends, and developing deeper relationships that are further strengthened by face to face meetings.  Facebook’s unique ability to suggest friends based on your information makes it easy to connect with people you haven’t spoken with in a long time.  And that, along with Facebook Pages, gives you a great platform to make your business more visible.

Compare that with Twitter, which is primarily for meeting NEW people.  I find that most people that use Twitter are business people.  This is a much better tool for finding people interested in joint ventures, business arrangements, and information (preferably free.)  People here have their own language, with # and @ symbols that confuse the heck out of people that don’t use Twitter.  So when people automatically import their Twitter status update into Facebook, they’ve already lost half their audience.  And the people that do understand your secret code have already seen that status update in Twitter…they don’t need to see it in Facebook too.

LinkedIn is comprised mainly of professionals supporting one another in business.  It’s a great tool for finding potential business builders to join your direct sales team.  But if you’re pushing your products here, you’re not likely to find much success.  You’ll have greater success here by interacting in the groups and providing value to others.

By mindfully using status updates and other interactions that fit the social networking tool and audience that you’re targeting, you’ll experience more success than if you try to use a one size fits all approach.  And that’s why it’s so important to clearly understand your social media goals and your targeted niche market before selecting the social networking tools you’ll use.

What do you think?  What tools do you use, and how do you use them?  What kind of success have you experienced?  I would love to hear your thoughts below!

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Social Media is Great for Team Building!Social media can be an incredible tool for building and supporting your direct sales team.  One of the ways to build long-term income in a direct selling business is through recruiting other sellers and supporting them.  Your compensation for building and supporting your team is the commissions that you earn on your team’s sales, and this provides more income than you can earn through your own sales alone.  As your team becomes larger, however, it can become challenging to meet your team’s needs, while building your own personal business at the same time.  Social media can help with this.

Here are some social media tools that can be used for building and supporting a team.

  1. Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn: Social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are excellent for finding people that may be interested in your business opportunity.  Now this is not license for you to SPAM people.  However, as you share delight in your successes, enthusiasm for your business events, and your love for your customers and team, you will naturally attract others who may want to learn more. 

    You can also use groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that are dedicated to people looking for work, and build relationships/provide valuable content there.  By participating as a relationship-builder and giver in these forums, people who are good prospects for your business opportunity will be interested in learning more.  And don’t forget to use searching tools to specifically identify those people who are interested in your product line!  People who are interested in your products are often your best prospects for the opportunity.

  2. Your Blog: A blog is such an incredible tool for your direct sales business.  It is a place you can provide content of interest to prospective customers, and is your home base for building relationships with people.  Your blog is also a valuable tool for team-building.  By providing content that is of value to opportunity-seekers, you become a trusted resource that attracts people to your business. 

    A separate blog can also be valuable for your team, providing team information, incentives, links, and a place to ask questions and make comments.  Imagine being able to provide your team with articles specifically dedicated to skills your team is currently working on building!  Blogs make it possible for you to provide that content without having to email everyone, worrying about spam blockers, etc.  You can provide a central location that your team can learn to come to as they need information.  Because all the information is archived on your blog, you can also send team members to specific information as they need it, providing a valuable library of topics that will be of benefit to your team for a long time. 

    And because blogs are easy to set up and maintain, they eliminate the need to go to the expense of setting up a personal website for your team.  Instead, you can set up an attractive blog with a few clicks, and provide all the resources your team needs in one place. 

  3. Groups - A Facebook group can be another valuable tool you can use to support your team.  Facebook makes it possible to set up “Secret” groups that are not available to the general public.  Your team members must be invited by you into the secret group, and this provides an excellent forum for team members to learn from and support one another.  As your team gets large, you may feel like you are answering the same questions over and over.  Imagine being able to send your team members to a central location for the answers!  You can set up a series of frequently asked questions on the discussion board of your group, and add to these as necessary. 

    Your team members can also use your group to support one another.  If someone has a question and you are not available, she can post her question to the group, and other team members can share what they’ve learned.  The collective wisdom of your team can help you build a stronger team than you ever thought possible!  And social media enables that sharing. 

By employing social media tools that your team can access, and then teaching your team how to make the best use of those tools, you can be more efficient and effective in your team building.  Your team will develop closer relationships with one another, and that will naturally attract more people to your team.  Social media makes it possible.

Are you a leader in direct sales?  How are you using social media to build and support your team?  Did you get some ideas from this article?  What are you going to implement?  I’d love to read your ideas in the comments below!

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One of the beautiful things about social media is the fact that you can use social media tools to craft specific messages for specific audiences.  By being strategic in your approach, you can build groups of potential customers and business partners that will be open to your message, and more willing to engage with you.

To begin, you must identify the prospects in your niche.  For example, if you sell home goods or cosmetics, you may be looking for women in a certain age demographic.  Begin to follow people in your niche using social media tools.  You can find them by doing good searches, reading profiles, and by engaging in conversations to learn about people.  Facebook now allows you to group friends into various friend lists, and then view updates just by that list, and this is a valuable way to find out what friends in your niche are talking about, and to make sure you are engaging with them.  If you use Twitter, an application such as TweetDeck allows you to group friends in a similar way, in order to keep track of those conversations.

Once you have identified your niche, and built relationships with that group, it is time to provide that group with a forum in which to interact with you, so you can position yourself as an expert.  Some of that interaction will occur within your daily conversations in Facebook, Twitter, or other social media tools that you use.  But you can also create a forum where you can have more input into the conversation.  A great tool for this is Facebook groups.

A Facebook Group is a great place to provide valuable information to your targeted niche market.

A Facebook Group is a great place to provide valuable information to your targeted niche market.

By creating a Facebook group, you provide a forum for conversation about topics that interest your niche.  You will also find out exactly what your niche is looking for.  You can encourage your niche to invite like-minded friends, increasing your reach.  Seed your discussion board in your group with topics that will get your prospects talking, and enable you to provide information of value.  And teach your group how to get the most value from their group membership, by explaining the tools available, and how to use them.  It’s also important to communicate to the group exactly what they can expect from you.  Let them know that you will be sending them weekly updates on the discussion happening within the group, invitations to events, special offers, and other information related to your business.  When you approach this in a spirit of providing VALUE to your niche, they will be welcome communications.

Let’s be clear.  If you are reading this, you most likely have specific business objectives for engaging in social media.  There is nothing wrong with this.  Social media is a great tool for expanding your reach and building your business.  By being strategic in how you build your friend groups, and being upfront in terms of how you plan to communicate, you will build a receptive group of people that are more likely to listen to what you have to say.  It’s important to always remember that you MUST provide value first…no one will listen if you sound like an ad.  But once you have built relationships based on value, you will have a receptive, targeted niche audience that you can use to build your business.

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I had an interesting conversation a few days ago with a few fellow direct sellers on Twitter. We were discussing social networking etiquette. In my experience, party plan direct sellers are among the most sensitive when it comes to making a good impression. We want to be sensitive to others around us, and many are worried about being “pushy” (yes, the dreaded “P” word!)

Yet as much as we worry about being pushy in the face to face world, we hop onto social networking platforms and all we do is push our businesses. Perhaps we’ve been told that this is a free form of advertising, so we jump on, gather a few online friends, and immediately start the onslaught of “buy my stuff,” “join my team,” “come to my online party.” No wonder people run the other way in social media when direct sellers show up.

We need to be aware of social media etiquette, in order to put our best foot forward. You wouldn’t show up to a networking event immediately telling everyone what you do, without listening to them. It’s the same thing in social media. So here’s a list of social media etiquette rules you may want to keep in mind before hopping on the social media bandwagon:

  • Listen first. When you begin using services such as Facebook, Twitter, etc, get to know people by learning about them first.  Set yourself a goal to learn as much as possible about 5 new people per day.
  • Interact and Give Generously. One of the best ways to get to know people in the social media arena is to interact with them.  So take some time each day to answer questions, respond to comments, and share the info that others are sharing with your network.  Share in ways that have nothing to do with your business, because you will be building tremendous value within your relationships.
  • Share information. One of the ways I start some of my days is to search the web for info that is of interest to my customer base.  Then I share several links throughout the day with my network, providing value.
  • Comment. Read other people’s blogs and comment on them.  One of the greatest compliments you can give to someone is to read their blog and provide feedback.  This is validation in the online world.
  • Learn the Unspoken Rules. This is a biggie.  There are unspoken rules to using social media properly, and you can find them easily by doing a simple web search.  If you’re going to use Twitter, learn to “re-tweet” properly.  If you’re using Facebook, have fun but avoid annoying people with an incessant stream of apps.  Learn what annoys people and don’t do it.  A little homework will save you a lot of costly mistakes…and lost prospects.
  • Remember that you’re communicating with PEOPLE. (This one is from my Twitter friend @grahamgudgin) Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say face to face.  Everything you type may last a long, long time, and go further than you expect.  So always remember that you’re talking to people, think about what you’ve typed for a minute before you hit the Send button, and treat everyone you talk to with respect.
  • Be real, be transparent, be authentic. (This one is from my Twitter friends @mikeconaty and @lisarobbinyoung)  It’s important to be yourself when interacting with social media.  When people see who you are and what you value, you’ll be able to connect with them on a deeper level.  Let people see what you care about and speak up about it.  As an example, I care deeply about social issues.  As a result, I retweet information about causes and events that I think have value on Twitter, and I post notes and status updates about these issues in Facebook.  I’ve even taken a day on my blog to talk about 12for12k, an organization that I think is doing tremendous things.  Let people see what you care about, and lend your voice to helping others see why it matters.

Incorporating a social media strategy can be such an advantage to your business, by expanding your reach, building relationships, and helping you learn more than you can possibly imagine.  And by making sure that you are following the generally accepted rules of etiquette, you will help to ensure that you are taking the best advantage of every opportunity that social media provides to you.

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Here’s today’s bonus post.  I’m doing a little survey, and would love your input.

If you had to choose just 1 social media tool to use, what would it be and why would it help you?

Please leave your answers in the comments section below.  Thanks so much!  Results will be part of a future post.

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Kristen asked a great question in the comments of my last post, about how to decide what social media information to use without getting distracted.  There is a tremendous amount of information out there regarding social media, and much of it is time consuming.  The tools themselves are also time consuming, and you want to make sure you are investing your time wisely, to get the greatest return on your investment (ROI once again!)

A lot of this goes back to your social media strategy that I talked about in my last post.

What are your objectives for investing in social media in the first place?  After all, there are many things that social media can do for your business:

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Gather/respond to customer feedback
  • Find new customers (find out what potential customers are looking for)
  • Find out what your competitors are doing/saying (and what their customers are doing/saying)
  • Identify new market trends
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Find well-qualified employees
  • Etc.

Depending on what your objectives are, this will help determine the social media tools that you use. If you are trying to drive web traffic for example, find out what social media tools others are using to drive traffic.  If you are trying to collect customer feedback, Twitter is a great place to start, but also there may be social networking sites devoted to your customer base.

I recommend that you take some time to observe what tools others in your industry/field are using.  Talk to others.  Join groups on LinkedIn and ask people what social media tools they use, and how it’s working for them.

It’s the very rare company that needs to use EVERYTHING that’s out there.  Unless you have a huge budget to invest in using all these social media tools appropriately, you are much better off targeting a few, well-chosen tools, and using them effectively, than in spreading yourself too thin.  Social media tools are only as good as the person that uses them, engaging people and developing relationships.  So find the tools the make the most sense for your organization, and then make it somebody’s job to spend the time to make those tools work for your organization.

From what I’ve observed in the direct selling industry, the tools that make the most sense are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

  • Facebook is a great place for consultants to connect with family and friends, build relationships, and post the occasional product update.  Companies can have a corporate presence through fan pages for the company and for best-selling products, posting event information, pictures of the company’s work, etc.  Facebook Groups are a great way to connect people in our market.  Facebook is also ideal for potential customers and distributors to relate to the company on a personal level.
  • LinkedIn is a great way to connect with serious-minded distributors.  These are the business builders that take themselves seriously as professionals, and want to connect with others that are successful in direct sales.  The number of groups devoted to the subject of direct selling, and the excellent flow of information being shared, is a great resource for the distributor that wants to make serious money in her direct sales business.  My favorite group for this purpose is the DSWA group on LinkedIn.Executives in the direct selling industry also have the opportunity to learn from one another on LinkedIn.  By finding out what others in the industry have to offer through talents and experience, the industry as a whole is elevated.  I have personally experienced a great deal of value through the connections I have made in this industry through LinkedIn.
  • Twitter is perhaps the most misunderstood tool in the direct seller’s arsenal.  Let me begin by telling you what Twitter is NOT.  Twitter is NOT a tool that can be used for a quick sale, to force people to go see your latest hostess specials, or to broadcast advertisements.  Twitter IS perhaps the most brilliant networking tool ever invented.  By investing time in developing relationships, finding people that value what you have to offer, and by offering value through the flow of information, you can create a great deal of loyalty to your brand.  Let me be clear: this is NOT a quick tool.  It takes time to develop relationships.  However it is an incredible way to reach a large number of people more quickly than you could if you only tried to network exclusively face-to-face.  It also gives you insight into what people are saying, and how you can help.

    Direct sales companies should be using Twitter to understand their customers’ and distributors’ needs, and to respond.  They should be using it to alert customers to company offers (with GREAT restraint), and to offer value to their customers and distributors through the flow of information.  Twitter should be used in conjunction with a corporate blog that provides information that customers need.
    Direct sales distributors should be using Twitter to identify people that need what they have to offer.  They should provide value to these customers by answering questions, providing information, and sharing (again, with GREAT restraint) how their business can meet customers’ stated needs.

The most exciting part of this new social media explosion is the fact that we can FINALLY get a much clearer picture when it comes to what our customers need and want.  We can also more easily identify our customers through searching public profiles and conversations.  We can identify the keywords that our customers most commonly use when looking for our products and services, and then make sure that our websites and other online presences make use of these keywords regularly.

By defining a clear social media objective first, you can then craft a strategy that makes use of the right tools for the job.  If you don’t know or understand which social media tools are available, then hire someone that does, who can help you craft and implement an effective strategy that positions you well to take advantage of all the benefits that a Web 2.0 interactive experience offers.

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