Has your direct sales company created a Fan Page in Facebook yet? If so, congratulations! Your company is one of a growing number of direct sales companies that is realizing that Facebook provides a tremendous opportunity to get the word out about your company and all it has to offer. I personally am a fan of many direct sales company fan pages, and I enjoy watching how each company is using them. There are definitely some best practices being demonstrated, and I so enjoy the creativity and resources that each company is providing.
If your direct sales company has launched a fan page, and it’s important to you that your company keep up with the times and continue to be a viable opportunity through social media, then you have some responsibilities too. I’ve also been noticing that not all consultants are thinking through how PUBLIC the company’s fan page is, and it’s time to wake up and realize that what you do has a significant impact.
Imagine what it would be like if you went to all the work required to put on a successful party: getting the booking, coaching the hostess, preparing the product samples and hosting/recruiting packets, leading the demo, etc, and you decided to bring along another consultant in your company to observe. During your party, how would you feel if that consultant complained about the company and its service, tried to convince customers to purchase from her instead of you, and generally disrupted what you were trying to accomplish? You’d be pretty annoyed, right? Well when consultants complain or self-promote on their company’s Facebook fan page, that’s EXACTLY what they’re doing.
I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. If you want your company to get involved with social media (and if you’re reading this, I’m sure you know how important it is to the future health of your company) then you must be part of the solution. There are many companies that are concerned about how far and wide negative messages go in social media. YOU must be part of the solution, to show your company that you know how to use social media appropriately, for the benefit of your own business, as well as for the benefit of every other consultant in your company. And you must say something if you see other consultants using it inappropriately. Only when we demonstrate that the field knows how to use social media appropriately will we find industry-wide acceptance of this technology.
With that said, I’d like to propose the following rules of etiquette for consultants interacting with their company’s Facebook page:
- Avoid Self-Promotion – The company Facebook page is a resource for everyone, and there are times when consultants would like to send their customers to the page for an idea, a special, or other resources the company provides through the page. If you jump on every post the company makes about specials, etc, with a link to your personal website, it’s going to prevent other consultants from making use of the page. Promote to your own customers. The company Facebook page is off-limits.
- Don’t Complain – The company Facebook page is NOT the place to trash the company. I can’t believe I even need to say this, but believe it or not, I’ve seen this. The company’s Facebook page is PUBLIC, and if you complain about things that you don’t like about the company there, potential customers and recruits may see it. These could be customers or recruits you or a fellow consultant has spent MONTHS trying to cultivate. Why would you tarnish the image of the company so publicly? If you’ve got an issue, call your consultant services department. No company is perfect…I get that. But don’t damage the reputation of your company. That just makes it harder for everyone to do business. (And by the way…once the issue is resolved, your complaints will still live on in social media. How will potential customers and recruits know the issue is resolved?)
- Contact Customer Service with Questions – Everything that is posted on the company Facebook page should provide value to the consumer. Period. If you’ve got a question related to shipping, processing, company policy, etc, ask yourself if an answer to the question will benefit the consumer or potential recruit. If not, then pick up the phone or email customer service. It is your responsibility as a representative of a particular company to support, or at the very least not undermine, the marketing efforts of the company, and posts that don’t help with marketing defeat the purpose of the page. Use the company Facebook page to help market your business and provide value for your customers. Use customer service tools provided by your company to ask questions.
- Avoid Product Claims Like the Plague – Just because your company started a post about a particular product on its Facebook page does not mean that the policies about product claims no longer apply. Even if anecdotally you’ve found that a product helped one person with a certain condition, product claims undermine the credibility of your product line and your business. If it can’t be scientifically proven, don’t say it on your company’s Facebook page. Otherwise, you could wind up getting your company into some serious legal hot water.
- PARTICIPATE! – There are many reasons why your participation on your company’s Facebook page can benefit your business. If your customers and prospects see lots of activity, it conveys the impression that your company is active and thriving. We like to do business with successful companies. We also love it when we’re provided with value. By taking a few minutes to comment on a post, uploading a photo, or passing along a video or article your company shares to your friends, you create a better business environment for everyone in your company. And when the company is successful, it provides more opportunity for you and your business.
What do you think? Have I missed any rules of etiquette? Can’t wait to read your ideas and what bugs you in the comments below!