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Tag: Social Networking

One of the keys to a successful social media marketing effort is good content.  Companies have to put out great content, and so does the salesforce.  The problem is, not everyone is a writer.  And so what you wind up with are a vast range of posts, some of which represent your company well, and some that don’t.

As a company, how do you address this?  Do you outright ban consultants from producing their own content?  Or do you take the other approach, and leave it completely up to the field?  Is there middle ground?

Some vendors have been working on solutions for our industry.  I’ve seen solutions where companies can go so far as to write individual status updates that they can push out to a distributor’s Facebook Page or Twitter account.  The problem with this approach is that everyone in your company has the same status updates, which flies in the face of the “social” aspect of social media.  Nothing personal about a “form letter” update.

I think there are a couple of things that companies can do to tackle the content issue:

  1. Produce sharable content – When your company puts out blog posts, status updates, videos, and other types of content, think about the types of content that would be easy and effective for your salesforce to pass along.  Don’t just send out ads.  Produce value-driven pieces that will be valued by the friends of your salesforce, and then teach your salesforce how to share them through their own social networks.
  2. Provide a content “bank” – While “word for word” canned status updates aren’t terribly effective, it can be helpful to give your salesforce a group of ideas they can choose from when writing status updates and blog posts.  These can be tied to monthly promotions and incentives, new product launches, holidays, and more.  The goal is to provide more than ads, but rather useful tips and advice that will provide value.

Since social media is so content-driven, it’s important for direct sales companies to tackle this issue early on. Then your entire salesforce has the potential to put out content that represents the company as a whole well.

How does your company approach the content issue?  What advice would you give?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic social media consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

Recently I photographed an event for a client that totally “gets it” when it comes to social media. They had a home office employee dedicated to posting pictures immediately after I took them. At first I thought this was going to be a huge pain in my backside. But it didn’t take long for me to get caught up in the excitement. Within minutes, the sales consultants at this event were checking Facebook and tagging themselves in the photos. They would then update their status with something exciting that was happening at the meeting. There was a buzz all during the conference among the consultants but more important was the affect it was having all over the country. Hundreds and eventually thousands of friends had become fans of this company. I was so intrigued by what was happening that I asked several people how they were liking it. They shared that posting all these pictures during the conference opened up many conversations about the product and career opportunity that probably would have never happened.

Mark Taulbee is a professional event photographer and commercial product photographer with over 25 years experience in the direct selling industry. Learn more about Mark and how he can help your company with photography at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Mark-Taulbee.html. To view some of his work visit http://www.proshotsevent.com and http://www.taulbeephoto.com.

This week I wrote a post about a bad experience with Domino’s Pizza, and how I felt that they ignored me on Twitter.  My thought is that if you’re going to have a Twitter account, you need to be prepared to service customers there, even if it’s simply to direct people to the appropriate customer service channel.

And I had someone on Twitter question whether I was being fair to Domino’s.  After all, the national brand is represented by independent franchisees.  Shouldn’t we hold the individual franchise responsible for a customer service failure, instead of the whole brand?

And as nice as that would be in a perfect world, I think it’s unrealistic.  Fair or not, consumers do hold national brands accountable for the service they experience from franchisees.  And that affects our direct sales model too.  If a customer or prospect has a bad experience with an individual consultant, they are most likely going to hold your brand responsible for that experience.  They may tell others how terrible your brand is as a result of that experience.  And more and more, they’re going to do that on social networks.

And as a result, social networks hold both the potential for disaster, as well as the potential to identify issues and resolve them before negative word of mouth takes off.  Every company needs to take a long, hard look at their monitoring and customer service functions as they relate to social media.  This is where our customers and prospects will increasingly congregate.  And our response as brands to issues will have a tremendous impact on the public perception of our brand.

Maybe it wasn’t fair for me to expect the corporate Twitter account for Domino’s Pizza to resolve my issue.  (And incidentally, as a result of my post they did open a customer service ticket to resolve my issue.)  It doesn’t change the fact that I DID expect it, and was disappointed when they didn’t come through.  Maybe it’s not fair for a customer to complain about your brand online because of a negative experience with a consultant who was already on the way out.  It doesn’t change the fact that they will complain.

The only thing you can control as a brand is your response.  Begin planning now.  You NEED a monitoring solution in place, you NEED a support path in place to direct issues appropriately, and your customer service department NEEDS to be trained to support web issues.

We can talk about what’s fair until the cows come home.  It doesn’t change what IS.

Are you ready?

image credit: sdminor81

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic social media consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

Most direct sales companies are creating Facebook Pages these days.  There are a lot of good reasons to:

  • Increased brand exposure
  • More direct communication with consultants
  • The ability to connect directly with the consumer

And so much more!

But have you ever noticed that some direct sales company pages are SUPER active, with lots of comments and fan engagement, while others are just a steady stream of company posts, with no response whatsoever?  What’s the difference?  Why are some people “Like-ing” and engaging, while others “Like” and then never come back?

There are two things going on here, and the solution is the same for both.

Issue #1: Your posts aren’t engaging people, so they’re not showing up in people’s news feeds.
The default setting for people on Facebook is “Top News.”  This means that the only posts that show up when people log in to Facebook are the ones that other people have commented on or interacted with in some way, or are from a Page that they have recently interacted with.  Since 99.5% of all the interaction that happens with a Facebook Page occurs from the News Feed, if you’re not showing up there you have a problem.

Issue #2: Your posts are all about you.
You already know that people only care about your brand insofar as it solves a problem or meets a need that they have.  So if all you talk about is your latest special or your next opportunity call, it’s a disconnect.  Even though on the surface you might think that the posts about your products and opportunity are why you have the Facebook Page, it’s not true. If you don’t engage people first, they’ll ignore you. 9 out of every 10 posts on your Page should be specifically designed to provide VALUE and promote ENGAGEMENT.

The Solution
So if you’ve suddenly realized that your company Facebook Page is not even showing up for most of your Fans, what should you do?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Begin by creating a list of “Engagement” posts. These are posts that provide tips, ideas, ask questions, or in some other way provide value to your list of “Like-ers.”  You might consider “crowd-sourcing” ideas for your next product (e.g. Would you like a pumpkin or a cranberry-colored one?), run contests where people can win products (just make sure you stay within Facebook’s rules for that, by using a company like WildFire), or share posts that relate to common aggravations or experiences (e.g. Hit “Like” if you’ve ever lit a candle to offset the smell of your kids’ stinky sneakers!  Tell us which scent you used!)
  2. Put all of your posts into a monthly editorial calendar. How do they balance?  Sometimes we need to fifty-foot view to see that we’re way too heavy on the promotional end, and way too light on the value and engagement end.
  3. Engage back. Do you respond to every single comment and post on your Page?  Do you even know if people HAVE commented?  You should!  In this social arena, one of your biggest tools is, well, social.  So respond to every single comment, even if it’s just a “thanks for sharing your ideas” or clicking the “Like” link on a comment.  It helps people to stay engaged when it’s a 2-way conversation.
  4. Show your consultants how to participate. Your ace in the hole, so to speak, is your field of independent consultants.  If you take a look at The Pampered Chef Facebook Page (disclosure: client), and click “The Pampered Chef + Others” at the top, you’ll see a vibrant and engaged community of consultants sharing tips and ideas.  This activity makes Facebook think that the Page is relevant to a lot of people, which means it’s more likely to appear in the Top News feed.  Make sure your consultants know how to use your corporate Facebook Page.  Invite them to share tips they would share at their parties, answer questions, and express their enthusiasm on the posts you put out there.  This will help people checking out your company to see what a great and engaged community that you have, while also helping you engage more of your current fans.

The more that people engage with your posts, the more likely it will be that your posts will show up in the Top News home page of your Fans.  And if you’d like more Engagement ideas, check out this post I wrote over on my Direct Sales and Social Media blog: Building Your Facebook Page Engagement Strategy

How do you engage the people who “Like” your Facebook Page?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic social media consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

Direct selling companies are in an interesting position right now.  Many executives who don’t know much about social media are looking to hire people who do, to guide them.  The challenge is finding people who also understand our industry and its specific nature. Just because a program or site someone saw is cool, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for direct selling.

It all comes down to understanding your business objectives before diving into social media.  By establishing a clear goal up front, every new program and site can be weighed against it, to decide if it’s a fit.  For example, let’s say that a social media advisor is in love with a virtual reality site he thought was cool when he worked at his last tech-savvy company.  This, he says, will be the shining star in the company’s social media strategy.

A quick look at the company’s business objective though, reveals that the goal is to increase consultant productivity.  Even though the site may be cool, it’s neither a) a place the company wants its sales force to be spending time (we want them selling and recruiting!) nor b) a tool that will in itself provide any tools to consultants to increase their productivity.  Sure, the site might help with brand recognition, but that has not been identified as the goal for the company’s social media strategy.

It’s critically important to ensure that companies start with business objectives, and not the “oooh! shiny” tools that try to sway our attention.  Focus is key.  The latest and greatest is not always the best solution for your particular needs.  Your best bet is to focus on tools that have the greatest concentration of your target market.  And then focus on ways to increase productivity by using those tools.  This is what will bring success with social media.

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.  She provides strategic planning consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

image credit: jurvetson

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