5 Social Media Tips for Direct Selling Companies

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I have worked with social media in a direct selling company since 2006. Luckily I have experienced many successes as well as mistakes that we could learn from. Here are a few tips for those working with social media and the unique complexities of a direct selling company.

1. Give your sales people something they can share. 

Your most loyal fans or followers in social media will be your sales people. They are eager for tools that will help them grow their business. By posting professional quality images of your products with clever marketing text, you have just given them something they can easily use to promote their business to their customers. When they share your posts, you may also acquire new fans and likes.

2. Ads, sponsored stories, and promoted posts work. 

A small investment in ads, sponsored stories, or promoted posts can offer giant rewards. You may have outstanding content, but you need an audience for that content to make it effective. We have used Facebook campaigns to gain thousands of followers at $0.02 to $0.06 per fan. I call it the great equalizer because it allows us to compete for attention with companies who have enormous advertising budgets.

3. Don’t allow your sales people to advertise on your company page. 

There may be few things more annoying to your consumers and other sales people than posts filled with advertising comments. If you make it easy for consumers to find sales people, you can refer them there and not have the sales people fight over them. If you delete an advertising comment, make sure you send them a nice message to know why and to prevent them from doing it again.

4. Big, expensive, and flashy efforts aren’t necessary. 

I have seen companies develop social games, elaborate sweepstakes, and big budget videos in hopes of acquiring more likes, shares, and engagement. When the dust clears and we look back at the post analytics, we  typically see high quality product images receive more likes, shares, and comments. Your sales people may enjoy the content, but it’s usually not shared by them as much as these product images.

5. Keep image text to a minimum.

I’ve seen a lot of images covered with text (including prices) and it sometimes makes me cringe. Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • Your sales people will use these images and sometimes customize the message.
  • Some people may consider the image with text tacky or ugly.
  • You may wish to use this image again for a season or campaign that doesn’t fit with the text.
  • You may change the price of an item shown in the image or your sales people may offer their own, lower price for the products in the image.
  • People searching for the text used on your image won’t find it unless you’re repetitive with it in the post.

As social media is ever evolving, we’re open to testing new things and developing new best practices. Please leave your tips in the comments to this post.

Creating a Social Solution

I was recently sent an article from the Harvard Business Review that I didn’t quite agree with. However, “Social Strategies That Work” by Mikolaj Piskorski – November 2011, is worth having a look. There are a few items from the article that prove to be quite worthy when companies create concepts for solving social solutions.

The author studied 60 companies as they ventured into online social realms. He found that unsuccessful companies just imported their digital strategies into social environments by broadcasting commercials or seeking customer feedback and that successful companies devised social strategies that help people create or enhance relationships.

I agree completely with the notion that companies should not merely broadcast their commercial messages or that they merely solicit feedback. I also agree that the best ones create or enhance relationships. However, i think that companies can still be successful if they add some of their commercial messages and solicit some feedback in the course of creating and enhancing relationships. People tend to understand the nature of business and that companies attempt to make a little profit here and there. There’s a bit more of the article that I don’t agree with, but that’s not what this post is about.

The article does a great job of giving us some criteria to think about when creating a social solution. It says that companies need to pay attention to customers’ unmet social needs and help people’s social challenges. Since it can be difficult to determine important social challenges, the author gives us some to work with:
•Connecting with Strangers
•Interacting with Strangers
•Reconnecting with Friends
•Interacting with Friends

What a great start to conceptualizing a social solution. Once this concept is devised, the author gives us a few questions to use as a social utility test. I chose the following two to share with you, as I feel they are the most relevant.

•Can our solution help customers solve a social challenge they can’t easily address on their own?

•Will our solution leverage our company’s unique resources AND provide a differentiated, hard-to-copy social solution?

Thanks HBR and Mikolaj Piskorski for giving us both the social challenges to try to create solutions for as well as the utility test to use to evaluate it. With these tools, we can brainstorm solutions and run them through a introductory evaluation before investigating them further. This has recently helped my group develop a few ideas worth looking into.

A couple of examples of successful projects that have passed Piskorski’s criteria can be found in eBay’s Group Gift application and American Express’ Connectodex social network for small business cardholders.

Hopefully you and your company can use the criteria above to create your own solutions too.

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New Website

Last week I created a new website that I am proud of. I’m proud because it gives me a way to help people have confidence in their lives. I am also proud because I saved our company a lot of money by using free tools, yet still developing a site that is clean and engaging.

Here’s a preview:

     

The site hasn’t been officially communicated yet, but you can catch a glimpse at http://chainofconfidence.com.

The Top 10 ‘Branded’ iPhone Apps

The Street recently published an excellent article on branded iPhone apps. Here is an excerpt:

While tons of Fortune 500 companies are scrambling to create an Apple iPhone app that helps promote their brand, the effort doesn’t always pay off.

More than 80% of apps put out by major consumer and health care brands are downloaded less than 1,000 times, according to a new study released by Deloitte. And only 1% of these so-called branded apps are downloaded more than a million times.

The majority of these fail to gain traction because they simply aren’t noticed, the report said. Many brands just aren’t spending the resources they need to actively market their apps in a crowded environment — passively posting an app and hoping for the best just won’t do.

Read the rest of the article, including the Top 10 Branded Apps

Explain Social Media

I’ve been trying to focus on projects relating to the Internet and Social Media lately. A few days ago, an intelligent person threw me for a loop. She said, “I just don’t get it.” When I tried explaining Social Media to her, she kept coming back with valid comments. One of her statements was, “If I wanted to tell a friend about something, I’d go talk to them or pick up the phone.” She said that she knows what her close friends and relatives are up to and doesn’t care to know about other people are doing.

So, I’ve taken this as a bit of a challenge and didn’t respond back to her right away. Here are a few of my thoughts. Please help me out in the comment section.

  • With Social Media, people can communicate to a large group of people at the same time.
  • Social Media allows people to share content from the Internet with people who have the same interests.
  • Social Media should never replace face-to-face contact.
  • Social Media helps people learn about other people who may not be incredibly close to them or have been out of contact for awhile.
  • Social Media helps people learn about what businesses are doing, what specials they’re offering, and gives people a chance to interact with them.
  • Social Media is a vehicle to help people show off their narcissistic side.
  • Social Media helps people reflect their interests to others who may have similar interests.
  • Social Media can be used by strangers to get to know people, even if they don’t want them to.
  • Social Media helps people find people who they’ve lost contact with.
  • Social Media helps people learn things about their friends that they usually wouldn’t have thought of asking about.
  • Social Media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.
In your opinion, what else does Social Media do? (CLICK HERE)
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Favorite Tweets of 2009

It’s no secret that I love using Twitter. I use my account for both personal and professional purposes. Twitter allows me to learn about innovative new products, business news, updates from friends, and a lot of laughs. So, with that being said, here are some of my favorite Tweets of 2009, each in less than 140 characters.

badbanana: If they don’t want us knocking down Popes, they shouldn’t make it look so fun.

CommunispaceCEO: http://ow.ly/NJUe Dee Hock on management – via @shelleykuipers – Great Article

hotdogsladies: Joining a Facebook group about creative productivity is like buying a chair about jogging.

adamisacson: Check it out! I’m texting while bicycli

artofmanliness: New documentary coming out: Emasculating Truth. looks good! http://bit.ly/5qp0Pc

abigvictory: Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck walk into a bestseller list. No punchline. The joke’s on us.

sween: They should make a Saw movie where the torture is to watch the other Saw movies.

mikearauz Interesting list of hot brands http://bit.ly/2hJ8rK via @miishi

joeschmitt: For Halloween I’m going as Facebook. Early on I’ll reintroduce a long lost friend, then bore you with which Scooby Doo villain they are.

PSFK: Piers Fawkes’ Future Trends 09 Presentation http://bit.ly/4FrVm1

shitmydadsays: “A mule kicked Uncle Bob once. Broke his ribs. He punched it in the face.. My point? You have an ingrown fucking toenail. Stop bitching.”

swampynomo: Hey Tiger ! Email is like herpes, you may not be able to see it but it never goes away.

badbanana: For $11, you can come to my house and watch me shave. The plot is a little weak, but the 3D effects are amazing.

JennyDeVaughn: Fortune’s 40 under 40 list http://bit.ly/1gR448

luckyshirt: It must get pretty crazy when the DJ tells the crowd to raise the roof at an Amish wedding.

sween: Some days I’d like to feel something… anything. But then I have to go to work.

badbanana: http://twitpic.com/kqjr5 – An assortment of seasonal grains.

Mashable – 5 Ways to Write Retweetable Tweets – http://bit.ly/ovkmw

Iconoculture – A $0 home energy bill by 2015. Possible? GE’s goal is to get us there http://bit.ly/QqsZT

Talking Points & Popular Terms

Are you the type who does more listening than talking around the water cooler because you aren’t in touch with the popular stories buzzing around the Internet?

Have you heard someone mention “Numa Numa”, “Grapefall”, “Afro Ninja”, or “Techno Viking” and have no clue what they’re talking about?

Do you get confused when people mention “Nuking the fridge” or “Crash Wednesday”?

I’m here to help.

Right now, people are talking about how Michael Cera has finally signed on for Arrested Development, Rick Santelli is ranting about the government’s economic plan, Megan Fox is a single lady, and the Octo Mom has been given a million dollar offer to do porn. BTW (by the way) Crash Wednesday is dedicated to your hangover on the day after Mardi Gras. The day is also known as Ash Wednesday for Catholics.

How do I know about those things? It’s much easier than you may think. Here are a few websites that you may visit on a regular basis and stay up-to-date.

Technorati is a tool that is used by many bloggers to keep track of what is popular on the web. It allows people to see popular news, videos, photos, blogs, movies, music, and games. It’s a great place to go to find things to talk about, write about, or share with others.

Urban Dictionary is an amazing resource for learning about new phrases or terms that are used as slang. This is a very easy to use and fun site. Each day, a new term or phrase is shown on the front page. The site can also be searched. This can be especially useful if you have kids. If Johnny comes home talking about administering “The Shocker”, you’ll know if you should administer soap in the mouth.

& Delicious and Digg are two good resources for finding and saving your favorite articles, blogs, or websites. They can also be used to see what articles, etc. are popular today and over specific points of the past. I recommend adding my post and blog to both.

Twitter can be seen as either very cool or very annoying. Basically, it’s a place where people write little entries about what they are doing right now. Some people use it to post relevant entries and some use it to post even the smallest of events, like eating breakfast. Twitter is good for people who want to know about other people’s day-to-day or minute-to-minute activities.

Armed with the tools above, you should be able to keep up with all of the Jones’ when it comes to topic conversation and slang. You should also have ideas to write about, places to learn about new subjects, and ways to keep updated on specific pieces of interest.

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