6 Ways that Direct Selling Companies are Using Facebook Now

image credit: jaycameron

image credit: jaycameron

Back in November, Facebook announced that, beginning in January 2015, they would be showing fewer promotional posts from Pages in the News Feeds of people on Facebook. Page administrators immediately began to see a significant drop in organic reach, leaving some to question whether a Facebook Page is even worth it anymore. And while it has certainly become important to pay for Facebook Ads if you want to guarantee the exposure of specific content, many direct selling companies are still finding value in their Facebook presence. I reached out to several direct sales companies, asking them to share their Facebook  strategy now, given the most recent change to Facebook’s algorithm. Their tips may provide you with some insight you can use when planning your own page content.

Brandy AycockMake Your Page a “Social Kiosk”

Even though our Facebook reach on the corporate page has decreased, we still see Facebook as a valuable resource in our marketing tool kit. At Initials, Inc. we are using Facebook mainly as a way for brand recognition and development. We are able to share the culture of the company, new products and offerings, in turn, our Creative Partners share from the corporate Facebook page. We also have created a custom ‘Social Kiosk’ where many social images and graphics are housed for Creative Partners to share with their circles. Sharing is really how we are broadening our reach. Also, our Facebook ads program has continued to increase interest in the company by generating leads for our offerings.

~ Brandy Aycock, Marketing Manager, Initials, Inc.

facebook icon Initials, Inc on Facebook

Ashley_GoodFoster Community

More than any other social media platform, Facebook tends to be a place that fosters community for Arbonne.  Whether it’s our Independent Consultants, or their clients, Facebook is a way to share information and content that makes their Arbonne experience richer.  Whether it’s sharing recent PR coverage, helpful tips for using our products, general information, or breaking news, Facebook serves as a destination to engage with this content provided by Arbonne and the larger Arbonne community.  It’s a place for sharing.  Our Business Ethics Standards Team (aka Compliance Department) is also utilizing Facebook as a way to connect with our field to educate them on policies, best business practices and to provide real-world examples of Independent Consultants using social media in a compelling AND compliant manner.

Our Independent Consultants also utilize the group feature of Facebook to create more sub-communities – such as a health challenge group to share content and offer encouragement, or a leader using it to motivate and provide training to her downline team.  Increasingly, our field is also better utilizing business pages to separate their business focused content meant for commercial activity and clients.  However, this will always remain a challenge for distributors in direct selling – finding the right balance between personal and commercial – because often their business and personal lives cross over in more ways than someone in a traditional corporate office environment.

~ Ashley Good, Chief Legal Officer, Arbonne

facebook icon Arbonne on Facebook

Randi FarinaCreate Interesting Content

The quality of content of our Facebook posts has become more important than ever. Since we provide solutions and products that fulfill a need, we find that by telling stories and educating readers works best for us. At Living Fresh Collection, our story is about creating a cleaner, healthier sleep environment, while protecting our planet.  Having valuable content that is relevant and that our audience can relate too is key, making sure that it all leads back to our message.

Since LFC inspires people to “create the life they’ve always dreamed of,”  we customize all our images and use inspirational, eye catching, engaging visuals. We have found that spreading our overall brand message across multiple social platforms (that complement each other), increases our engagement.  We incorporate contests on our Facebook page that uses other social networks to expand our reach & draw people to our Facebook page.

We also encourage our Consultant to cross promote their pages with ours, to increase the reach of our page. By asking our Customers as well as our Consultants to share their stories, we build engagement, generate content and increase our reach.

~ Randi Farina, Vice President, Business Development, Living Fresh Collection

facebook icon Living Fresh Collection on Facebook

Tim Haran Speaker 2Interact Regularly

No matter the content, we understand only a fraction of our built-in Facebook audience will see (organically) the majority of what we post. Frustrating as that may be, the USANA social media team remains true to its mission: Always provide value for our audience. This means more than just creating interesting and shareable content (though that’s a big part of it). The team also interacts regularly with its audience — replying to comments, answering customer questions, and acknowledging Associate achievements.

Interaction is key. We’re always looking for opportunities — at live events, on webinars, in offline marketing materials, etc. — to explain to our audiences the importance of interacting with our Facebook content. Ideally this behavior will benefit their business and help their network grow. Bonus tip: We strongly encourage selecting “Get Notifications” so our audience isn’t relying on Facebook’s algorithm to tell them when we have posted content. The impossible-to-ignore white-number-in-a-red-box in the upper-right corner lets them know.

Targeted messaging is important. USANA manages 25+ Facebook pages worldwide, which allows for opportunities to target and share only what’s valuable to a particular audience. Our team collaborates to evaluate successful content, while also exploring new ways to extend our reach. We are dabbling in Facebook ads and promoted posts to expand outside of our existing network and help us achieve business-related goals while still providing value for our audience.

~ Tim Haran, Director of Social Media, USANA Health Sciences

facebook icon USANA on Facebook

Ellie TerryReward and Be Valuable

We decided on a two tier approach to best combat the changing Facebook landscape for small business. Firstly, at Mix Party, we felt it best to reward our true loyal followers and customers with a weekly #MeatlessMonday giveaway. A simple, yet highly effective giveaway designed to make engaging with our Corporate Facebook page easy and accessible. We removed multiple tiered entry points and kept it simple with a tag and random draw by our media agency. Why make it complicated? Secondly, we don’t try and over sell the product. We’ve made a concerted effort towards valuable and useful content that is closely related to our product categories, yet goes above and beyond just a simple straight sell and promotional push. We want our followers to feel that Mix Party is about entertaining and social selling, with a great balance between content and the sharing of a happy hour experience.

~ Ellie Terry, President of Sales and Marketing, Mix Party

facebook icon Mix Party on Facebook

Brian GillShare Through Facebook Groups

Younique is a virtual party-pioneering party plan company, and we have Facebook to thank for much of our initial success and brand recognition. We encourage our Presenters to post 3D Fiber Lashes (before and after) pictures on Facebook, which has helped enormously with this exposure. Like many of you, we are dealing with Facebook’s changing landscape, and we continue to diversify over many social networks. I want to share one particularly beneficial way Younique has leveraged Facebook from the get-go (which, for us, was October 2012). And here it is: We have a “Presenters Only” Facebook Group. That means that virtually every one of our 160,000+ Presenters is part of a Facebook Group organized and managed by Younique Corporate. This is cool because even though Facebook has made it so that a business’s public Facebook page has lost its organic reach, we still have a way to communicate our latest and greatest to our Presenters. As you may already know, when you’re part of a Facebook Group—unless you, the individual, turn off Notifications—you’ll receive all the communications from that Group. In this way, we get all of our news, promotions, and multimedia assets to our Presenters, and then they can take it from there and share it to their own personal networks. And one more huge thing: These Facebook Groups provide a relatively private forum for our “Y-Sisters” to get to know each other, share best practices, and be a part of the Younique community, which is all about Uplifting, Empowering, and Validating Women!

~ Brian Gill, EVP of Marketing, Younique

facebook icon Younique on Facebook

 

Clearly, although each company approaches Facebook a little bit differently, each is still finding value in a Facebook presence, and the many tools that Facebook provides. While Facebook Ads have become a necessity for direct sales companies that wish to generate leads, there are still many ways that every company and consultant can use Facebook to create community and share value.

Many thanks to each direct selling company that took the time to share in this post. When we work together as an industry and share our knowledge, we elevate the entire profession!

Which of these tips are you or your company using for your business? What will you try next? Please share in the comments!

Why is Direct Sales Changing?

If you’ve been involved with direct selling for any length of time at all, you know that today’s direct sales (aka social selling) company looks a lot different from those of years past. It’s created quite a challenge for established companies who seek to be relevant to the next generation of salespeople and consumers. While it used to be that companies could rely on their salespeople to do all the marketing of products to their social circles and training consultants face to face, today the entire concept of “social circle,” along with the way consumers expect to have access to goods, services and information, has shifted dramatically. And this has created a massive shift for our industry.

What has caused this shift? Here are some of the reasons:

  • website-montageOnline Shopping: Online shopping is an amazing thing for today’s busy consumer. Rather than have to rely on store hours and leave the house or place of business, we can go online at anytime, when the need arises, and find exactly what we need. And this ease of access has changed consumer expectations about how they can get our products, too. It used to be that products “only available from a consultant” lent an air of mystery and desirability. Today’s direct sales company can still make products only available through a consultant, but that consultant better have a website with online shopping! And it had better be easy to shop immediately from the corporate website. If you expect a consumer to wait or jump through hoops to shop with your company, you will not survive in this competitive marketplace.
  • Amazon Prime: Another thing that has changed consumer expectations dramatically is Amazon Prime. If I can pay $99 bucks annually and get everything I want within 2 days with free shipping, why can’t I do that with you? This is a huge struggle for our industry, because the fact of the matter is that UPS, FedEx and the rest of them are expensive! Add to this that ground shipping across the country can take up to 7 days, and we can feel like dinosaurs when it comes to delivering our products in a timely way. In my opinion, direct selling companies are going to need to band together to achieve the critical mass necessary to qualify for lower shipping rates. Do it yourself warehousing is on the way out. And warehouses MUST be either centrally located in the middle of the US, or multiple warehouses throughout the United States must be put into place to achieve faster shipping times.
  • Virtual Party Facebook and other Social Networks: The entire concept of “social” has changed in the last few years. Direct sellers are no longer limited by a geographical area, and those that we think of as friends often expands to people we have never met in person but see everyday online. This is a huge opportunity for our industry, the original social sellers, but we have to enable our salesforce with the technology that will support sales and recruiting to this expanded social circle. This includes “virtual party” technology, autoresponders, online chat, and a host of other technologies that support and extend social selling and training beyond the living room.
  • Khan Academy, and other online learning platforms: The way our industry trains is affected too. In-person meetings, once the lifeblood of our industry, have met with dwindling attendees. Part of the reason is that just about everyone has discovered that they can learn just about anything online, even in a group setting, and it costs a whole lot less. Khan Academy, for example, provides a huge amount of outstanding video training, absolutely free! With direct sales trainers offering free and low-cost webinars all the time, it’s up to companies to provide similar learning experiences if they want to ensure that their salespeople get company-approved training that’s relevant and on-message. This means that every direct selling company needs a learning management platform, and content that takes into account the many different learning styles of people today. For example, I recently just completed the development of a new consultant training program that included video, on-screen content that mirrored the video content (for those that prefer to read instead of watch) and downloadable handouts (for those that want to take the content with them.) That combined with this company’s online community on Facebook and weekly webinars created an environment where people could learn without ever leaving their homes. And this is what today’s consultant expects from you too.

The new social selling, whether your company calls itself a party plan or an MLM or Network Marketing company, is necessarily something new. Technology-enabled companies that support salespeople in reaching their social circles wherever they may be, in both group and individual ways, is what the new direct sales company looks like. Companies that are willing to make the shift in a timely way are the ones that will excel in the next 5-10 years in this industry.

Your thoughts? Please share them in the comments!

Lawful Direct Selling is Not a Pyramid Scheme

Direct selling puts economic power in the hands of the everyman. Why is it that rich people with an agenda feel the need to constantly tear down this industry? In this article Jennifer Fong explains how lawful direct selling is different pyramid schemes, and explores why direct selling is so important to the finances of individuals.

Read the full article »

Consultant Crisis Management in the Face of Company Challenges

When a direct sales company experiences a challenge, the response of consultants can make a huge difference in customers’ perception of the problem and the company. Handling that situation with grace and saving feedback for private channels serve both consultants and their company well. In this blog post, Jennifer Fong explores how consultants for a well-known social selling company handled a crisis with grace and made their company look good through a crisis.

Read the full article »

Guest Post: How to Generate 1,000 Leads per Month with Facebook Ads

From Jen: Since I’ve stepped into my corporate role as Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications at SwissJust North America, my business partner (and husband!) John Fong has stepped out from behind the curtain, managing the consulting business we used to run together. He focuses primarily on lead generation for direct selling companies, and […]

Read the full article »

Understanding How Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Affects Your Direct Sales Business

An overview of the 2014 Canadian Anti-Spam Law and how it may affect your direct sales business.

Read the full article »