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.
I 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.
“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.
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:
- YouTube videos http://www.youtube.com/user/Scentsy01
- Facebook fan page, Videos, Events http://www.facebook.com/pages/Scentsy-Wickless-Candles/47147216349
- Twitter http://twitter.com/scentsy
- Safe Candles blog with sharing tools http://www.safecandlesbyscentsy.com
- LinkedIn Groups
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.
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:
- Engagement: How much of what is published is followed, viewed, or shared?
- Behavior: How much of what is shared drives traffic to the conversion site?
- Conversion: How much of traffic converts, e.g. buys, hosts, joins?
- 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:
- 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.)
- Sales from online events have increased. (Scentsy provides replicated websites for its consultants that allow customers to assign a purchase to a specific party.)
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!