Does the Social Media You’re Learning Apply to Your Business Model?

When we begin to learn social media, we turn to the experts.  And many of the experts in the space are what I term “social media generalists.”  They know social media well, and it’s their job.  It’s all they do.  As a result, we look at their social media presences and the way they interact, and we think, “That’s how to do it well.  That’s what I should do if I want to do social media well.”

The thing is, social media is their business.  That’s ALL THEY DO.  But that’s not you.  Your main business is direct sales.  Social media is certainly a component that will help you market your business.  But simply copying the social media strategy of the “experts” is not going to help you do your business well.  Chances are that “expert” doesn’t know a lot about your day to day, unless they’ve worked in your industry.

My predicition is that in 2010, we’re going to see the rise of the “niche-specific social media expert.”  These are people that HAVE worked in various industries, and who get what the day to day of the people in those industries is like.  It’s great to be a social media expert, and they help us find best practices.  But it’s only when that social media person is ALSO an expert in YOUR industry that you’re going to gain the most return on your investment.  I’ve been saying for a while that the way we do social media in direct selling is different from general social media.  Sure there are principles that are the same (and that’s what the generalists can help us with), but there are a whole range of factors that make our industry unique.  And we need to apply social media with that in mind.  A “one size fits all” approach just won’t cut it.

So as you learn social media, certainly listen to the experts.  But don’t just do as they do.  Look for people that really know direct selling, because that is your core business. You need to listen to those folks who get what it’s like to motivate a volunteer team.  Who know how disheartening it is when that party cancels.  Who understand the thrill that comes when you recognize someone, or get recognized for your efforts.  Yes, direct selling is unique in so many ways, and it’s an industry that inspires the passion of so many of us.  Yes, social media.  But not for it’s own sake, and not blindly following people who don’t get the unique needs of our industry.

Instead, we need to rely on what WE know, too.  Because that’s the filter through which social media will bring the greatest success.

Agree?  Disagree?  Would love to know what you think!

6 Responses to Does the Social Media You’re Learning Apply to Your Business Model?
  1. Neil Phillips
    January 6, 2010 | 4:55 pm

    I think you are writing about a key idea. Social media has changed so much in the last two years that “generalist trainers” have fit the need well. For most of us, however, that training lets us dabble and play and not participate in a meaningful way for our business.

    At this point, I think most direct sellers would be better off using social media as an extracurricular activity while they discover how their customers/audience use social media, figure out what channels to use, and then develop a strategic plan.

    We need to remember that we are in direct sales first. Anything else is just filler unless their is a good plan.

  2. Jill Shea
    January 5, 2010 | 8:11 pm

    I agree Jennifer! So important we don’t forget the importance of a phone call to hostess coach, getting organized for our next party, keeping up-to-date on our product line and communicating with our team. I love social media which is why I could stay online all day but choose to use a timer so I make sure I take care of my family and direct sales business each day, that must come first.

    Love & Success!
    Jill Shea

  3. Larna Pittiglio
    January 5, 2010 | 3:15 pm

    I agree Jennifer… there is alot of ‘general’ social media information out there that is irrelevant to direct sales…. I have spent the last 12 months studying it, learning it…. so I can filter what I need to pass on to my team and company in 2010.

    The last thing I need as a leader is a team of consultants overwhelmed by masses of general social media information and losing focus on their core business.

    I believe as leaders we have a responsibility to ‘guide the way’ so to speak…. filter out the unnecessary and point our teams in the right direction.

    Cheers
    Larna

  4. Ivette Muller
    January 5, 2010 | 2:05 pm

    I agree with you. Direct Sales companies and consultants are a special group. I think having a social media expert who has been in direct sales is a great start.

    But I think there’s a fine line for those who have been in direct sales and are a social media expert, and those who still in direct sales and are a social media expert.

    There are some experts who are truly out there to help others succeed, and even though they are still in direct sales, you probably don’t know what company they are with because that is not the focus. The focus is on helping ALL direct sales consultants, regardless of what company they are with….just like you are doing! 🙂

    • Larna Pittiglio
      January 5, 2010 | 3:22 pm

      I have two filters when I look for my experts Ivette….

      1. Are they ‘walking the talk’ ie. still in direct sales and is it working for them in their business…..

      or

      2. Do they have Direct Sellers who are using their social media strategies effectively…. Which is why Jen is on my ‘experts’ list!

      In reality, anyone who is working with a social media strategy effectively will not be plastering their companies brand everywhere anyway…… and if they are doing so and calling themselves an ‘expert’ the alarm bells start ringing for me!

      Social Media is about positioning yourself as an expert in your field, not your company, and providing value for your readers and followers, so they are more interested in knowing about you and what you do…..

      Cheers
      Larna

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