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My New Blog Home

Thanks for visiting my blog!  This blog has moved to http://www.jenfongspeaks.com.  I invite you to join in on all the fun over there, where you’ll find lots of great articles on direct sales and social media, training courses and more.

Cheers!
Jennifer Fong

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And now for the post…

I recently wrote a post about how if you have to choose only one social media tool as a direct seller, Facebook is probably a good choice. A large majority of your target market is probably already on Facebook, and it’s a great way to reach people who may be interested in buying, hosting, or joining your direct sales business. It’s primarily a relationship-building tool, however, and not a direct marketing tool. You build relationships on Facebook so that later you have the opportunity to market more directly, once someone has opted in.

megaphoneIf you decide that Facebook is the tool for you, it is important that you don’t become “that girl” or “that guy” on Facebook. You know the one I mean. The one who makes every status update a pitch for her or his business. The one that everyone learns about the “hide” button in Facebook for.

So here’s my list of Annoying Facebook-ers, Direct Sales Style. Don’t be one of these!

  1. The Sales Commercial – This is the direct seller who constantly subjects everyone to a steady barrage of, “My company is having a SALE!” “I’m so excited about the new catalog! Check out my website now for all the latest products.” Or perhaps, “I’m placing my order at 9:00 pm tonight. Be sure to get your orders in now so you can get your products.” Seriously, just don’t do this. People really don’t appreciate it, and will get tired of you quickly.
  2. The Recruiting Commercial - Similar to the Sales Commercial, this is the person who subjects you to a steady stream of why you should join his/her team, the latest recruiting promotion the company is offering, constant invites to his/her opportunity meetings, etc. Folks, recruiting is a one on one activity that is accomplished after LISTENING. Your status update is not the place to broadcast your opportunity to the world. If you really want to recruit people through social media, build relationships and find people that actually need what you have to offer. Then share your opportunity privately, in a way that meets the needs of the prospect.
  3. The Hosting Commercial - This is the one where you just roll your eyes as they say things like, “I’m giving away $500 in free jewelry this month. Want some?” or “I have 5 slots for 5 lucky ladies to host a party with me. Contact me to book your date!” Honestly…this really doesn’t work. Maybe once in a very blue moon someone will take pity on you and book a show. But you’ll be much better off building relationships and TALKING to people. Repeat after me…”Broadcasting doesn’t work in social media!”
  4. The Shameless Self-Promoter - This is the person that constantly tells you how much product they’ve sold at their last party, how many people they’ve just recruited, all the awards they’ve won through their company, etc. While once in a while sharing your excitement about something is fine, doing this all the time gets old really quick.
  5. The Noisy Player - You’ve played Farmtown, Bejeweled Blitz, or whatever the latest and greatest Facebook game or Quiz is, and you’ve released it into the news feeds of every single person connected to you. Folks…people don’t CARE. All this does is clutter up the news feeds of folks that don’t want to see your scores. And annoying people really isn’t great for business.
  6. All Business Broadcaster – These are the folks that never share anything personal through Facebook. You have no idea who they are, but only know what they sell. Folks, this is called SOCIAL media for a reason. If you’re not willing to let people get to know you on a more personal level, then perhaps social media isn’t for you. (That’s not to say you have to share EVERYTHING. Just intersperse the business with some personal, to help people know, like, and trust you.)

If you’re going to use Facebook to help build your business, invest some time to learn how to do it properly. That way, the contacts you build on Facebook may actually benefit your business. Why not sign up for my newsletter? I provide lots of tips on how to use social media to build your business.

What do you think? Have you experienced any of these Facebook-ers? Do you have any to add? Would love to read your thoughts below!

Photo Credit: Roland

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Once you get beyond 100 or so friends on Twitter, it can be a little overwhelming. I remember the day I finally gave myself permission to miss stuff on Twitter. It was so liberating! :) You simply aren’t going to be able to keep up with everything going on all the time. Now this post is not going to be about why Twitter rocks, and why I enjoy (greatly) the relationships I’ve built there over time, but instead how I manage those relationships.

At this writing, I have 3,884 followers on Twitter, and I’m following 3,847 people. I tell you this not to show off numbers (which by themselves are actually pretty meaningless) but to give you context. If I had 25K followers, I would most likely use a different strategy than this (or at least different tools.)

So here’s what I do to manage my Twitter conversations.

  1. I use TweetDeck. (Great for a few to a few thousand followers…I hear it gets less stable with tens of thousands. I’ll deal with that when I get there.) I’ve got columns set up within TweetDeck to track specific keywords, as well as groups of people.
    tweetdeck
  2. In the search columns, I track keywords important to the industry I service. One of my biggest keywords is “direct sales.” Anytime anyone mentions direct sales, I am notified in real time. That way I can check that person out and see if they’re someone I might want to engage with.

The groups columns are set up this way:

  1. All friends – This column contains the conversations of everyone I follow. If I have a few extra minutes, I’ll scan this column for interesting tweets.
  2. Pay Attention To – People “graduate” from All friends to Pay Attention To through engagement, or through recommendation. If someone is really interesting, engages with me in a meaningful way, or if someone is recommended by a person I respect, I add them to this column. I read most of the tweets in this column.
  3. Rock Stars – I know the name is silly, but whatever. These are the people who I learn from in Twitter. So you’ll find people like @chrisbrogan, @unmarketing, @leesabarnes, and @SarahRobinson in this column. They do social media really well, and I learn a lot from their tweets. I read just about everything here.
  4. Personal Friends – Just like the name says, these are people I know in real life. It’s a way to keep up with people I know and like. :) Incidentally, I’ve added myself to this group. If someone references a tweet I’ve made earlier, it’s easier to find it in this column than trying to find it among the tweets of everyone I’m following.
  5. Direct Sales – This column is for people I’ve identified as direct sellers who may be interested in the services I offer. I check this one regularly as well.

So that gives you a little bit of insight into how I manage Twitter. I think it’s important to have a strategy in place, because you need to be able to focus on the conversations that matter in order to build relationships that will benefit your business. By using a tool such as TweetDeck, you can segment the larger conversation into more meaningful streams, which enable you to be more effective as you network.

What do you think? How do you manage your Twitter relationships? Looking forward to reading your thoughts in the comments below!

And if you’re not yet following me on Twitter, please do! My handle is @liajen, and you can follow me by clicking here.

Note to Readers: This blog is moving!  I am in the process of moving my blog over to my new website at http://jenfongspeaks.com.  While blog content will be shared between these two sites for the next couple weeks, eventually everything will be moved over and I will no longer be updating this site.  If you subscribe to this blog via email, you will need to update your subscription in order to continue to receive content from my blog.  If you’d like to update your subscription now, just click here: Subscribe to Direct Sales and Social Media by Email

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There are about thirty gazillion books out there on the topic of social media these days. It can be a little bit overwhelming trying to select the books that will best help you and your direct sales business.

I decided today to share with you what’s on my bookshelf. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, these are some of the books I have read and enjoy on the subject. Would love to read some of your favorites in the comments!

One of the tricky parts of any book on social media is how quickly things evolve and become out of date. It’s one of the reasons I don’t often recommend books about specific applications. For example, any book in print you pick up these days on Facebook is likely to reflect the old user interface, not the current one. I have to update my training on blogs and social networking platforms every single time I teach a class, because things are constantly changing.

But there are essential guiding principles that are relevant to social media marketing, no matter how the tools change. The books above discuss those principles, and are certainly a good read.

So what do you think? Love these? Hate them? Can’t wait to hear in the comments below what you are reading!

NOTE: This blog is moving to a new home at http://jenfongspeaks.com. In order to guarantee uninterrupted delivery of these posts to your inbox, please click here so you’ll be subscribed to the posts in their new location.  I will only be maintaining posts at my old blog site for a short time before everything is switched over.  So please click here today so you don’t miss a thing!

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I am in the process of (finally) getting a web host that can actually do all the cool things I want my blog and website to do. So in the very near future, you’ll be able to access my blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com. The domain transfer will be happening in the next few days (and my good friends Danny Brown and John Haydon are hooking me up with the VERY cool new Headway Theme for WordPress, while making sure I get settled in my new home.)

In the interim, you may find a few links that aren’t working so well on this site.  See, up till now I’ve been hosting some things on this site at jenfongspeaks.com if they didn’t work on the free wordpress.com platform.  And while the transfer happens, things may be down for a couple of days.

So if that happens, please bear with me.  I promise the wait will be worth it!

Cheers!
Jennifer

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Continuing with this week’s theme of Facebook Pages, I found this article incredibly interesting: http://www.communityorganizer20.com/2009/08/04/understanding-how-facebook-pages-grow/

I highly encourage you to check out this article.  If you are considering establishing a Facebook page for your direct sales business (mandatory, in my opinion, for direct sales COMPANIES…optional for individual consultants).  Incorporating some of the ideas in this article will help you grow your fan base, which helps lead to the success of your overall Facebook page strategy.

To your success!
Jennifer

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PrivGuide

I’m giving away a free Facebook Privacy Settings guide.  If you’ve taken any of my training courses, you know that I provide step-by-step, easy to follow directions with screenshots that make technical topics easy.  If you’d like to know how to adjust your Facebook Privacy Settings, you can register to download the guide here: http://cli.gs/FBPrivacy

You’ll also be subscribed to receive a free copy of my e-newsletter, with lots of tips and tricks to help you use social media effectively.

I hope you find the guide helpful.  And if you do, won’t you tell a friend?

Jennifer Fong

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42-15646960In my classes, I teach direct sellers how to create a blog and use it to establish themselves as an expert, related to their product line.  We talk about establishing a goal, identifying the targeted niche market the blog is aimed at, and then producing content that solves problems for the target market.  The content should be specific, actionable, and your target market should be able to use it without paying you a dime.

However I’ve noticed that there are four major things that people worry about when starting a blog:

  1. Plenty of people are writing about the same topics.  How do I stand out from the pack?
  2. Am I really an expert?  I’m still learning this stuff myself.
  3. I’ve learned this topic from other people.  If I write about it am I stealing their stuff?
  4. How do I KEEP coming up with new stuff to write about?

Lets start with the concerns about the whole “expert” thing, it’s not like you’re presenting yourself as someone with a degree (unless you have one.) Rather, it’s just like what you would do in your parties. People have questions that you’re able to answer. If you have a friend that you know has a lot of information about cooking, for example, they may not have gone to culinary school, but if they make good recipes and know their way around the kitchen you’ll ask them for advice. It’s the same kind of thing. You are providing the information in your voice, with your words, based on the needs of the target market you define. It’s not like you are cut and pasting the content. Rather, you’re running it through the filter of your head, so that you can provide the information in the context that your market needs.  That’s why it’s so important to identify your target market first: so you can present content in the context that they need.

If you occasionally want to share a link to an outside resource, that’s OK too. Then you’d just provide a paragraph giving context to your target market, to go along with the link you provide. Experts aggregate resources for their market, too, and that’s what you’re doing with this approach.

Regarding the concern about others writing the same things, it’s a good question. But the same question could be asked…why would a customer purchase from you, the direct seller, instead of going to their local Walmart? It’s the level of service, and because you understand THEIR needs.

Social media is about building up a rapport with people. As they come to know, like, and trust you, they will then care about the info you provide, and want to know more about you. So is your content the same as content I can get elsewhere? Maybe. But I like YOU so I choose to get that info from you. We build those relationships through social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook, and then that’s when the message matters.

There’s that old saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Yes, we focus a bit on search engine optimization, but the bulk of your traffic is going to come from the relationships you build, and the people they refer. That’s where the power of social media comes from, and how it benefits your business.

Finally, let’s talk about the concern of coming up with new content.  As part of your overall social media strategy, you should be participating in the social networking communities where you target market hangs out.  As a participant, you should be observing and taking part in the conversations that occur there.  The more time you spend, the more you know what matters to your target market.  And that will give you plenty of ideas about what to write.  The point behind your blog is to meet the needs of your market.  So take the time to get to know what your market online cares about.  Then the content will come naturally.

You should also be paying attention to your stats, so you know which articles that you write generate the most interest.  Do you have posts that people forward?  Do you get a lot of traffic on specific topics?  Then those will be the topics that you want to make sure you continue writing about.  The beauty of web 2.0 is that you get feedback.  Use that to your advantage.  It will keep your head full of ideas for content!

What do you think?  Would love to read your ideas below!

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CB060539As you begin to interact in social media platforms, it’s very easy to get comfortable quickly.  You will make friends with people and get to know lots of things about them.  You’ll also be interacting with people you know in real life, and so often the conversation that started in person will continue online.

It’s important, however, not to get TOO comfortable.  Remember that everything you say is essentially PUBLIC and everyone can see it. (One of my tweets, along with my picture, actually ended up in a segment on the Today show without any warning!  How’s that for public?) Especially if you are using social media for business purposes, you need to really be careful about what you say.  By all means make friends, enjoy conversation, and build relationships.  But there are several things you should keep in mind, since prospects for your business may be reading too.

  1. Keep it positive. A constant flow of negativity and criticism is something no one enjoys.  If you’re having a bad day, share it with your friends in person.  Keep the negativity off of social networking, because prospects that don’t want to have their day dragged down may quickly choose to ignore you.
  2. Keep it professional. While it’s fine to share personal information in order to build relationships (for example, I love to cook, and will often share recipes and other foodie info with my contacts in social media as a way for them to get to know me better) keep the private stuff off of your social media forums.  People don’t need to know how many beers you drank last night, or how much that rash itches. (eewww!)  Remember, if it’s not OK for your company, your customers, your kids, or your momma to see it, don’t post it!
  3. Keep it social. Social media is not the place to bombard people with ads about your business.  That’s not what people showed up for.  Telling your contacts about your latest sale or recruiting special is inappropriate as your status update.  Instead, use your status update to build relationships, share advice and resources, and to be SOCIAL.  You can market later, after people have opted in for your newsletter (sign up for mine here) or joined your community.  But please don’t spam the world.  That just makes you, and your company, look bad.

By projecting a professional, yet approachable, image in social media, you can enjoy the success that many have reported.  But it’s important to remember that there is a difference between in-person conversations, and those that can go much further than you think in a public forum.  Respect that difference, and you’ll find success.

What do you think?  Have you experienced this?  Would love to read your comments below!

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Founding ConsultantsIf you’re in direct sales, you most likely have the opportunity to attend your company’s National Convention this summer.  This event is a wonderful time to connect with your colleagues, enjoy recognition, and learn a tremendous amount that will help you build your business even bigger in the coming year.

As a direct sales leader, it would be incredible to have every member of your team attend convention.  The education and inspiration cannot be matched, and a fired-up team is an incredible way to launch into the fall selling season, which is typically the most profitable time of the year for direct sellers.  However the reality is that usually only a fraction of the team is able to attend, and so only a few experience the advantages of attending National Convention.

Fortunately, social media can help you extend the convention experience to the entire team.

  • Familiar Faces - Community building is an incredible part of the convention experience.  When people meet and get to know one another, they get plugged in in a way that just doesn’t happen over the phone and through email.  Give your team members who couldn’t attend the chance to feel connected by taking LOTS of pictures, so that lots of those names they see on reports and recognition sites and message now have faces to go with them.  Have a special place in your team group, website, or blog where you share pictures of your team participating in convention experience, so everyone gets a taste.  And use those pictures throughout the year in your communications.  It really does make a difference.
  • Share the Learning – If your company allows, take some video snippets (with a flip-cam or even your phone) of training, and post them to your group or website as well.  Post things you’ve learned from the sessions, and invite team members in attendance to share their “ah-ha!” moments as well.  Many of your team members wish they could be with you at convention.  Give them a taste to help them feel connected!  And their businesses wil also benefit from all the things you’ve learned.
  • Host a Streaming On-Site or Follow-Up Event - Give your team a little taste of what they’re missing through an application such as uStream.  Broadcast live from convention during a team event, and share some of your learning live and in person!  (You could also do this after the event, and have everyone that attended take part.)  The power of live video can be an exciting way to get your team members excited about your company and their businesses.  And while you’re there, take some time to recognize those team members who couldn’t make it, but are doing awesome things with their businesses.  What a great way to help people feel connected!
  • Share the Resources your Company Makes Available from Convention Through its Facebook Fan Page - If your company has an official Facebook fan page, check out and share the resources that your company is providing.  They may have some great pictures, video, and other resources that your team members will enjoy, and that may also entice people considering your opportunity to finally take the plunge! (After all, if convention is that much fun, and people feel so special, it might be the PERFECT opportunity!)  So be sure you’re checking out what your company is providing, and make sure you use it!

Nothing replaces the convention experience, and if there is any way for you to get there, you absolutely should.  But as a leader, make sure that every single member of your team has the opportunity to experience a little bit of the magic and the inspiration that comes from the incredible event your company has prepared for you this year.

What do you think?  Are you going to convention this year?  How will you share?  Would love to read your comments below!

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