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Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

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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Facebook Page suggestionThis post was written because my friend Heather McCarron Allard over at The Mogul Mom blog, where I’m a regular columnist, asked for it.  You see, sometimes when I’m trying to think up great blog posts, I ask for help from my regular readers.  After all, you all come and subscribe to my blog because the content is helpful to you.  So who better to ask when I’m trying to come up with more content that’s helpful?  So I put out on Facebook a request for topics that my readers would find helpful.  And here’s what Heather wrote to me:

I get SO MANY requests to “Become a fan” of XYZ’s page on Facebook and sometimes I think to myself, “WHY??” Not to be rude, but to discover the value of becoming a fan. What are people doing with all these fans? Does it strengthen their brand? I would love to know more. ;)

So today’s topic is Facebook Pages.  What are they?  Do direct sales companies really need them?  Do direct sellers need them?  And if so, where do they fall within the entire social media marketing framework?  How do they benefit your brand?  Heather, this one’s for you. :)

Starbucks_PageA Facebook Page is a marketing tool that businesses can use to build brand awareness, engage prospects, and promote viral visibility.  The only part of Facebook that is by default indexed by Google, they are good way to improve your business search engine rankings, and help people find your business.  Companies such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, and Victoria’s Secret have all had great success engaging their target markets through their fan pages, and you can put this power to work for your business too.  While you are only allowed one personal profile on Facebook (per Facebook terms of service), you can have multiple business pages.

I recently did an informal poll of direct sellers, asking them what the number one thing they wished their direct sales company would do in social media to support them.  Surprisingly, the number one answer was that they wanted their companies to have a regularly-updated Facebook page.  A consultant-facing Facebook page that contains contests and incentives for consultants, specials that consultants can pass along to their customers and prospects, photos of fun events such as recognition, team meetings, and convention, etc, can all be a way to engage consultants, helping them to be a part of the community, and providing them with tools they can use to market their own businesses successfully using social media.

Vantel_PageFor independent direct sellers, a Facebook page is an OPTION, but in my opinion not a necessity.  Since a direct seller’s primary purpose in social media is to build relationships and drive traffic to a site (such as a blog) with the conversion objective of subscribing (you want people to come to your blog and subscribe, so that you then have permission to do more overt marketing), you can just as easily (or more easily) build relationships through your personal Facebook profile.  If it is important to you to have a separate business presence on Facebook, a page is the way to go, but realize that it will take work and time to build an engaging presence that causes you to benefit from this presence.  Some of the benefits of a Facebook page include the fact that Facebook caps your number of profile friends to 2,000, while a Facebook page can have an unlimited number of fans.  You can also add some nice applications to your Facebook page, making it interactive.  However, your page needs to be compelling and, frankly, fun enough for people to want to come back.  If your page is just an unending series of ads that provides value for no one but you, even if people become fans they’re not likely to come back.

So that brings us to the value proposition of your Facebook page, as well as Heather’s question.  She gets plenty of invitations to become a fan of friends’ pages.  But the question is WHY?  What’s in it for her?  If you don’t have a compelling answer to that question, you shouldn’t be creating a Facebook page in the first place.

Consultant_PageYour entire social media marketing strategy should be designed around the concept of providing value, positioning yourself as an expert, and providing the content that people need to solve their self-defined problems right now.  (“Self-defined” is the key term here.  You must get inside your prospect’s head.  People don’t say to themselves “I wish I knew which widgets to buy.”  They have PROBLEMS they define such as “I wish I knew what to do to relax and relieve stress.”)  Then, as part of your marketing strategy, you provide free, actionable content that provides solutions.  So in the context of your Facebook fan page, you might import your blog that contains helpful articles, and provide little tips through your status updates.  You might have someone design and build an engaging application for your page where people measure their stress level.    Notice you’re not pitching products with this approach.

Now that said, you can have a section on your page where you share the monthly specials.  People understand to an extent that a Facebook page is about business.  But if your Facebook page is an unending sales pitch, I don’t need to show up for that.  I’ve got commercials on TV that give me my fill of ADVERTISING.  This, instead, is MARKETING, and there’s a difference.  You must meet people at their point of need, and create the value that causes people to want to know more about you and what you have to offer.  It’s an engagement process.

When you succeed in providing a Facebook page that provides value, it does strengthen your brand.  Your fans are more likely to return because they’re engaged, and they’re also more likely to refer their friends.  The image and video files you share through your page can help you gain viral visibility through the news feeds of your fans.  And you can gain more readers for your blog (with its conversion objective of subscribers) by sharing it on your page.  The more interactions you have with someone through your page, the more they’ll remember you when it’s time to  make a purchase.

If you decide that a Facebook page is the way to go, I encourage you to check out my friend John Haydon’s blog.  Here’s got a great post on “How to Create a Facebook Page in Less than 4 Minutes.” But remember that’s just the creation.  Then you have the responsibility of creating an environment on that page that provides interactivity and value.  If you’re not willing to invest the time and effort that that will require, you may be better off sticking with marketing through your Facebook Profile. (And incidentally, I don’t have a Facebook page myself.  I have generated tremendous business simply through my profile and other social media tools, and have not felt the need to add a page I’ll have to support to the mix.  Will I one day?  Perhaps, when I hit the 2,000 friend limit on my Facebook profile.  But for now, I’d rather spend my efforts on other marketing efforts.)

What do you think?  Do you have a Facebook page?  Has it helped your business?  Would love to read your comments below!

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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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Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong

Today’s post is firmly tongue-in-cheek, however it contains an essential message.  Those that have been through my training know that I am a firm proponent of content marketing through social media channels, which means that you do NOT spam the world with your products or your opportunity.  Rather, you provide valuable, actionable content that people can use right now without spending a dime, in order to draw people into a relationship with you.  Once they know, like, and trust you, then you have a much more potentially successful opportunity to share your business.

So in today’s post, I am going to share with you the very WORST types of status updates and tweets you might find from direct sellers.  Keep in mind these are all fictional.  But if it sounds even remotely like something you’ve posted lately, take heed!  You’ll be a lot more successful with content marketing.

Here we go…PLEASE don’t let this be you!

Bad Facebook Status Updates

  • XYZ Company is having a SALE! Buy my products right now and you’ll save 50%.  Shop now!  Here’s my link…
  • I have the greatest business on the planet! Have you thought about direct sales? Are you living your dreams? Join my team today!
  • XYZ Product cures cancer and will save the world (UGH! This one had BETTER not be you!!!)

Bad Twitter Tweets/Direct Messages

  • I saw you mentioned “Product.” I sell product! Here’s my link!
  • Thanks for following me! Click here so you can buy my stuff:…
  • You should join my company because it’s the greatest company in the world. Here’s my link…

Notice that all these are “me” focused.  They’re all about me and my product/opportunity.  Consider now some messages that are YOU focused.  People respond a lot better when it’s about them.

  • Let your white wine warm up a bit before drinking.  You’ll get better flavor.
  • This makeup tip will bring out your eyes…
  • Need a quick dinner tonight? Try this quick and easy recipe (Link to my blog)

See how now the messages are solving a problem for the reader?  Not all the messages immediately send people somewhere.  Instead, they are relationship builders that help a person know, like, and trust you before they ever spend a dime with you.  Once they like you and opt-in for your messages, they’ll be a lot more likely to buy or join.  Just like you can opt-in by clicking here for my newsletter. :)

And that’s just smart social media marketing.

What do you think?  Have you had experiences on either end of this type of marketing?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments!

Jennifer Fong

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Jennifer Fong's Facebook Profile

Jennifer Fong's Facebook Profile

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend recently where software companies claim to solve all of a direct sales company’s social media requirements with their latest and greatest software tool.  Companies can control the message their distributors send, they claim!  You can build a whole community within your own little bubble, within your control!  While I am not knocking any particular software application, I think it’s important to realize that you don’t need to pay for a software platform in order to use social media effectively.

Part of the beauty of social media is the fact that the tools where the most people are are free.  If you build your own social community on your own website, you’re going to have to complete the additional step of driving traffic there.  What’s the compelling reason for your prospects to come to your community?  Why not operate in environments such as Facebook, where your prospects already hang out?  Why would they go to your homegrown community for fun?  To be sold?  I don’t think so.

You also need to realize that the conversation is going to go on within Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking platforms whether you participate or not.  You will not be able to tightly control the message.  Those days are over, and it’s best not to even try, because that could come back to bite you in social media circles.

Now I’m not saying that direct sales companies shouldn’t consider software solutions.  But it’s important to take a step back and consider the overall goals of your social media and total marketing program first.  What do you want to accomplish?  Who are you trying to reach?  Where do you want to drive traffic, and what are the conversion objectives? How will participation with your brand shape brand perception?  How will you measure success?  Without answering these critical questions first, investing in an expensive software platform is a mistake.

Basic sales strategy says you go where the people are.  It’s not “If you build it they will come.”  People are already using free social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, and that’s where they’re connecting with others.  Some are already complaining that they’re overwhelmed with these tools.  Why on earth would you want to add another?  You don’t want to make doing business with you a social media chore.  Instead, blend into the communities that already exist, bring value, and drive traffic that relates to your conversion objectives.  That’s how you’ll experience success with your overall social media strategy.

Your thoughts?  Would love to read them in the comments!

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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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One of the common reasons that I often hear from people unsure about entering the social media world is that people are afraid to waste time on banal chatter.  “I don’t care what people are having for dinner or what they’re doing right now!”  However this attitude can be counter-productive to a relationship-building strategy that results in additional prospects and revenue for your business.

partyStep back for a moment and envision a party, attended by people from your targeted niche market.  If you’re a direct seller, you most likely will see a lot of moms, as well as other people.  Have you spent any time with moms in the real world lately?  Do you know what they talk about, and how they build relationships with each other?  They talk about what their kids are doing.  They talk about recipes their kids will eat.  They talk about how hard it is to get everything done in a day and still make time for themselves.  They talk about how they feel like they’re losing their identity in their mom persona.

Now imagine yourself attending that party as well.  How will you engage the others there?  Will you start talking about your business and your products?  Not if you want to engage anyone.  Instead, you’ll be sympathetic.  You’ll share solutions that worked for you, and recipes your kids like.  You might share stories of times you had a similar experience.  And when they start talking about the identity thing, you might talk about how your business is helping you with that very same issue.

Do you see how the “banal chatter” has provided you with an opening?  Social media networking is exactly the same.

We must connect with the people we meet at a personal level first, as real human beings, before we try to do business.  We must offer compassion, real solutions (that have nothing to do with our product), and similar experiences that help people know, like, and trust us first.  Only then are people willing to hear what we have to say about our businesses.  And if we use a strategy that drives traffic from social networking sites to our blog, and then to our newsletter and groups, we are assured that only the people that are interested receive our sales messages.  And these prospects are a lot more likely to purchase from us.

So the next time you’re tempted to write off social networking as banal chatter, think again.  These conversations are the openings that enable us to build relationships, and gain prospects that ultimately result in new business.

What do you think?  Do you agree?  Would love to read your experiences in the comments 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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There are so many reasons why social media is good for a direct sales business.  There are so many things social media can do to help you grow your business in a powerful way:

  • FIND PROSPECTS who are looking for your products and opportunity right now!

  • Provide BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE than you ever thought possible

  • Position yourself as an EXPERT that people go to for product recommendations

  • BUILD COMMUNITIES of people that want what you have to offer, and who will refer their friends to you

  • SUPPORT YOUR GROWING TEAM members, and help them learn from one another

  • Grow professionally as you LEARN from the best of the best

All of this results in additional income for your business.

There are a number of online tools that can make it easier for you to use social media effectively.  Some of my favorites include:

Facebook

Friend Lists in Facebook

Friend Lists in Facebook

  • Friend Lists – This feature of Facebook enables you to group the content from your friends in meaningful ways.  As a direct seller, this is a great feature, because you can make sure to keep up with the content, and build relationships with your targeted niche.  You won’t miss their content because of a very active feed.  The best part is that you don’t need to download anything.  It’s already built into your Facebook account.  Just click the Friends link at the top, and start sorting!

Twitter

  • TweetDeck – This is a great tool that can be used to sort your Twitter stream.  As you begin to gain more and more people that you follow on Twitter, the number of comments flying by can get a little
    TweetDeck

    TweetDeck

    overwhelming.  And since there are specific people and search phrases that you really want to pay attention to as you build your business, TweetDeck is a FABULOUS tool to help you keep up.

  • Twellow – Dubbed the “Yellow Pages of Twitter,” Twellow is a fabulous search tool that helps you find people in your targeted niche market to follow.  Simply enter the key phrases that your targeted niche is most likely to include in a profile, and a list of Twitter users will appear.  Browse the list, and choose who to follow!
  • Twitter Search – Another great way to search for people and topics important to your targeted niche.  Twitter search enables you to search conversations.

Blogs

  • Feedburner – Feedburner allows you to set up an RSS feed for your blog.  This means that the people who read your blog and like the content can be automatically notified, either through a feed reader or through email, when you update your blog.  Some of you have already signed up for this service on my blog.  It’s a great tool because it lets you know how “sticky” your blog is…how many readers want to come back for more.  And that helps you produce better content.

AutoResponders

  • Did you know that it takes 7-15 times for someone to hear from you before they purchase from your website?  Now if you’ve been in direct sales, you know the effort it takes just to do the regular follow up needed for your party customers.  How are you going to keep up with contacting the right people at the right time with the right messages in the right order?  It gets overwhelming!
    My Favorite Autoresponder

    My Favorite Autoresponder

    Fortunately, technology comes the rescue again, through the use of Autoresponders.  When someone signs up for your mailing list on your blog, you can have a series of emails, already in place, pre-written, that they receive on a regular schedule.  This might take the form of an e-course, valuable info, a newsletter, or some other information.  The point is, when people start receiving info of value from you, they start to trust that your emails have value, and they’re more likely to read them.  Then, when you make a product recommendation at the bottom of the occasional email, it’s taken a LOT more seriously.  Trust me, if you are considering marketing your business online, you NEED an autoresponder.

    I spent a LOT of time looking through autoresponder programs, trying to pick the best one.  After a lot of time, I’ve finally decided on AWeber.  It’s got the most user-friendly features and templates, and it makes your life a LOT easier, once you get it set up.  And for less than $20/month, it’s TOTALLY worth the investment.  Click here to check it out.

So that’s my summary of tools that I think are great when you’re implementing your social media strategy.  You don’t want so many tools that you get overwhelmed.  But by making careful, informed decisions about selected tools, you can be more efficient and effective, saving you time while reaping the benefits of social media for your business.

What do you think of these tools?  Do you have other recommendations?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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