Do Those in Direct Selling and Network Marketing Need Facebook Pages?

FBpage_ScentsyThis week someone told me that they were advised to set up a Facebook Page as an independent direct seller, because if they tried to use their Facebook Profile for business, Facebook would shut them down.  They were told to separate their business and personal completely, in order to comply with Facebook rules.

Now I’m sure that the reason this was advised was due to this statement found within section 4 of Facebook’s terms:

You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).

And if what you plan to do on Facebook is blast people with broadcasts about your products and opportunity, you may be better served with a page.  Then you will be in compliance with section 12 of Facebook’s terms, which reads:

Pages are special profiles that may only be used to promote a business or other commercial, political, or charitable organization or endeavor (including non-profit organizations, political campaigns, bands, and celebrities).

Notice the “may only be used” part.  ALL you can do is use it to promote your business.  If you want to get technical, that precludes any activities that would help people get to know you as a person, or help you build relationships with them.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if that’s what you plan to do with your Facebook Page, you are not going to be successful with social media marketing.

Friends working togetherDirect selling is all about building successful relationships with people.  It’s about getting to know someone and their needs, building up that trust factor, and sharing at a personal level.  Only when you know someone, and they know you, can you begin to offer the appropriate products, as well as features of the opportunity, that will appeal to that specific individual. And in an online world, this should always be done privately.  Your sales pitches should NEVER be broadcast for all the world to see.

Now I know that a lot of people have jumped on the Facebook Pages bandwagon.  I do believe that they are essential for direct sales COMPANIES.  But I am still not convinced that independent direct sellers and network marketers need them.  There are a couple of reasons for this.

  1. If you are doing your job right as a direct seller, you’re busy.  You are doing face to face appointments or parties, following up with hostesses and customers, coaching your team, attending meetings, etc.  That’s what the business requires if you want to make any money doing it.  An effective Facebook Page requires a significant time investment if it’s going to be engaging enough for customers to want to be fans of it.  If it’s a steady stream of ads, or worse, completely abandoned because you have no time to engage in it, then it’s a waste of your time.  I do not believe that most direct sellers have the time to run their businesses, while also creating and maintaining an effective Facebook Page.
  2. It’s about RELATIONSHIPS.  The main benefits of social media marketing for direct sellers involve reaching more people, and providing value.  As people begin to know, like, and trust us, then we are able to offer what meets their needs.  I believe it is much more effective to build relationships with people as a PERSON rather than as a business entity, as the terms of Facebook Pages require.  When you share information about yourself, such as pictures of your kids, your thoughts on the latest book you read, what you did last weekend, etc, you are engaging people at a human level, and they see you as a real person, rather than as someone who just wants to sell them stuff.  And that’s what direct sales is all about, isn’t it?

So if you can’t use a personal Facebook profile for commercial gain, how can you use it to benefit your business?

  1. Get to know people at a human level, and help them do the same with you (build relationships)
  2. Listen to people’s needs, and respond as a person
  3. Express enthusiasm for your business when it’s relevant to the conversation, but don’t make it a sales pitch (Work is part of who you are as a person)
  4. Create Groups for former customers and hostesses to encourage reorders
  5. Message people privately if they ask about your opportunity or a specific product

Now I am not completely knocking Facebook Pages.  I know there are a lot of benefits to them.  I just don’t think that  individual direct sellers are going to receive a lot more benefits and ROI when adding a Page to the mix, as opposed to just using a Profile.  And since effective Pages require such a large investment of time, if the results are going to be similar, is it really worth the effort?  I’d personally rather use that time to go book and do a party, and put some money in my pocket.

That’s what I think.  What do you think?

9 Responses to Do Those in Direct Selling and Network Marketing Need Facebook Pages?
  1. Annie B
    October 28, 2012 | 3:00 pm

    Love this article, Jennifer! I just took a webinar on using FB pages and ads to generate leads. I could have met three new people in the time it took to watch the webinar! 😉 You are so right that nothing can replace face-to-face. Thanks!!

  2. Karen Clark
    October 23, 2009 | 11:37 am

    I felt the same way you did until I found out that FB profile pages are limited to 1000 friends. I have found that my Page does not take up much time at all, on average I only post one update or link a day, and respond to comments. I look at it as another doorway into my business. I do feel that you should follow the same principles as a profile page in that you are not blatantly advertising but being of Service to your readers, giving tips/advice, sharing resources and personal anecdotes as they relate to your business, and #1 is to interact and respond to comments. I do see far too many Pages where it is the same ad over and over, and no one is paying attention. With anything online, the focus should be on engagement.

    • Jennifer
      October 23, 2009 | 1:17 pm

      Karen,
      Thanks for your reply! You’re right, there is a limit of 1000 friends on profiles, and as I’ve written before, if you’re starting to approach that limit you might want to give Facebook Pages another look. However the average direct seller comes nowhere near that number, so my personal feeling is that they’d be better off focusing time on truly engaging through a profile, than spending time that could be better spent elsewhere on a Page that isn’t highly effective. I think that a lot of the things you’re doing on your Page can be done equally well with a Profile, without the extra time investment.

      I appreciate you sharing your point of view! You are right…the focus should ALWAYS be on engagement.

      Jennifer

      • Karen Clark
        October 27, 2009 | 1:15 pm

        OK Now I just read that the limit is 5000. So maybe it changed. Confused. LOL

        • Jennifer
          October 28, 2009 | 8:59 am

          LOL! I thought the same thing. 🙂

  3. Jill Shea
    October 23, 2009 | 10:33 am

    I agree Jennifer! I have not created a Page for business mainly because it will take more time away from me and I can engage in conversations with people on my personal profile. I’m very fortunate that my direct sales company has a Facebook Fan Page where I can direct people too. I do have a FB Group which I find doesn’t require much time but is a very effective way to keep in touch with clients and potential reps about my direct sales business. I highly recommend a FB Group to stay in touch with your clients if you are someone who is already short on time.
    Great post, thank you!
    Jill Shea

    • Jennifer
      October 23, 2009 | 10:46 am

      Thanks for commenting Jill! I agree with you that a Group is a good way to keep in touch with current and potential customers and team members, and certainly takes less time that a page. While there are SEO advantages to a FB page, at the end of the day most of us want to work a face to face business in our local markets, and that means that personal relationships are a lot more important than google rankings.

      Keep up the great work! I appreciate your comments.
      Jennifer

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