Does Canned Content and Templates for Distributors Work in Social Media?

There is a certain, newer network marketing company (that shall remain nameless) that has sent all its recruits out with the same tweets.  Seriously.  If I see one more tweet saying “Unlike ANYTHING I have ever seen before…” or “There is a mass movement in the network marketing industry…” or how a certain tycoon is “the greatest thing to ever happen to network marketing,” I may just have to throw my mouse at them.  And this brings up the issue of direct sales companies providing the sales force with canned content for social media platforms.  If EVERYONE uses the same thing, I believe we create the counter effect of what we want.  We become a laughingstock, rather than a compelling argument.

It’s a challenging thing to contemplate.  On the one hand, companies are working very hard to present a consistent image to consumers.  They want to create a certain perception of the brand, and in print media, providing templates and wording has worked extremely well.  But what happens when this is taken to the extreme?  What if EVERYONE in your company is saying exactly the same things in all the same places?   What does that do for your credibility? This isn’t localized anymore.  And at some point, your market is going to say “uncle.”

The evolution of social media has made it more difficult for companies to mandate consistency.

So what is the solution?  Can we still provide templates for the field?  I do believe that sample templates and guidelines help a bit.  But they must be customizable, and come with training on how to integrate a consultant’s personal brand into the marketing messages.  (This also plays into the issue I talked about last week, about the software that pushes canned content into distributor Facebook streams.)

What are the types of content that companies may want to provide for social media?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Blog ideas: Rather than provide canned articles, provide a list of possible topics, with links to source materials where consultants/distributors can educate themselves on the topic before writing.
  • Status Update ideas: Think about the campaigns your company is running that month, and provide a list of topics, again, that consultants/distributors can reference.  While these shouldn’t be used word for word, you can provide both good and poor examples for consultants to reference.
  • Sample Ads: Images and wording for advertisements that can be used within Facebook, AdSense, on selected websites and blogs, etc. can also be a helpful resource.  Especially important is access to professionally-designed graphics and imagery.  Again, consultants/distributors should be able to add and customize the verbiage on these to make them relevant to the individual consultant’s brand.

I also think our companies need to do a better job educating the sales force on marketing techniques.  How does a consultant create and communicate a personal brand?  How do you customize company-provided marketing resources in order to represent the brand well, while communicating your message?  How do we avoid filling the marketplace with the same messages over and over and over?

We’re not playing in the same playground anymore.  Canned messages, in and of themselves, are less effective when everyone can see everyone’s messages.  Direct sales companies need to get better at helping consultants and distributors customize the message, while still providing enough guidance to maintain public portrayal and perception of the brand.

Does your company provide templates?  Can you customize them?  What kind of resources do you have (or wish you had) to help you market your business online?  Would love to read your ideas in the comments below.

2 Responses to Does Canned Content and Templates for Distributors Work in Social Media?
  1. Karen Clark
    March 9, 2010 | 3:44 pm

    This is very similar to print ad copy guidelines, but they need to be adapted for the digital age. Companies for years have provided copy that is OK to use in print. The problem now though is instead of people reading 1 from the same person in their local area over and over in print (which is good marketing) they are now reading it from 10s or 100s or 1000s of people since we now have access to the whole world. In some cases, the repetition is not the worst of it, the actual wordiness is. What seems OK in print definitely comes across as spammy and get-rich-quick schemey online. So your suggestions of offering ideas is wonderful! Consultants, especially when they are new and inexperienced but very eager to spread the word, do need guidelines and suggestions. But today, it makes more sense to teach them how to be conversational, authentic and engaging vs. giving them canned templates. Great topic, Jen!

  2. Brian Smith
    March 8, 2010 | 6:04 pm

    As always…she knows what she is talking about. I love this stuff but you know, I always say that you can throw a lot of knowledge out there but my experience is that few can really execute. I expect a few will find a way to improve and set the next trends but the rest can find a place on the bench. Keep up the great work Jennifer.

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