Don’t Be a “Pouncer” in Social Media!

I had an interesting experience today that I want to share with you, because I think it provides some object lessons related to the way we approach people via social media about our businesses.

This weekend I posted about a product from a direct selling company that I used to make something I purchased from this company.  Since I work with the company and have provided a lot of training for them, I am friends with many of the company’s consultants on my personal Facebook Page.  There were many comments on what I made, most from this company’s consultants.  That was great.

But then a family member of mine entered into the conversation.  She asked me what product I used, since she had been looking for the same type of product.  Now I have to give the consultants credit…no one pounced in public.  But my family member was suddenly inundated with messages and friend requests from this company’s consultants, looking to sell her the product.  She sent me a private message through Facebook that read:

Holy Cow! one question gets me an onslaught of consultant messages! LOL

I deleted her question and quietly referred her to my own consultant if she was interested in the product.

So now that we’ve mastered avoiding the pounce in public, let’s discuss some of the finer points, and what went wrong here.

  1. The question was directed to me.  She wasn’t asking to be sold.  She was asking me what I used.  This didn’t give license for everyone to private message her.
  2. In this situation, I clearly already had a consultant, since I had made a purchase.  It was up to me who I would refer her to.
  3. MANY consultants from this company commented on my post.  It would have been helpful for everyone to take a step back and say to themselves, “If I message her, probably many others will as well. And that could turn the customer off.”

Now maybe the situation was a bit different here because I am friends with so many consultants from this particular company.  But truly in any situation, you must consider whether or not the customer could be inundated with private messages.  It’s the same reason that companies don’t want you to pounce on a customer looking for something on the company Facebook Page.  They instead refer that customer to the consultant locator.  This ensures that the customer gets connected to a local consultant, and that the customer doesn’t feel pounced on.

So what should these consultants have done?

They should have let me answer the question.  And since I already have a consultant, they should have let me send my family member there if she was interested in the product.

It all comes down to respect.  It can feel like the “wild, wild west” when we all have access to the same people.  But you still have to respect the fact that certain people have certain claims.  In a person-to-person situation, if a family member had asked me about a product she was interested in, I would have referred her to my consultant.  It would be rude for many consultants from the same company to all try to get her business because they overheard the conversation.  The same rules apply.

Now I’m not trying to “slap” anyone here.  I just don’t want you all to scare customers away!  So think about what you would do in a person-to-person situation, and let those same rules guide your online interactions. Let’s make sure a situation like this never happens again.

Your thoughts?

Image credit: Photo Farmer

17 Responses to Don’t Be a “Pouncer” in Social Media!
  1. Tami Thompson
    November 3, 2010 | 6:31 am

    I so appreciate your knowledge and wisdom in the realm of social media. Because of what I’ve learned with you (two different training calls AND your newsletter) so early in the game, I am so much better prepared than many of my FB direct sales friends. Actually just referred a Yahoo group member to your site regarding a question she had about FB pages. When I came to your site so I could copy and paste your link to her, read this excellent article about Pouncing. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise.

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 3, 2010 | 9:29 am

      Thanks so much for your kind words Tami! I appreciate you referring my site, too!

  2. Kristy Pool
    November 1, 2010 | 3:34 pm

    Yes, this is a very good post because I see it a lot on facebook. I think it can be a very easy thing for any consultant to do, so I think you’re right, the best advice is to step back and think about the situation to stop one’s self from pouncing. And it would be a good idea for directors and leaders to bring this point up in training too.

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 1, 2010 | 3:53 pm

      That’s a very good point Kristy! Directors and leaders, as well as our companies, have to make sure that the sales force is getting the training it needs to avoid “pouncing” situations! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here! It’s appreciated!

  3. Clare
    November 1, 2010 | 12:27 pm

    I completely agree with this post. No one wants spam in their in-box or private messaged to them via facebook. I think that if people read your posts more carefully, they will find appropriate ways to utilize facebook and other social media for their direct sales businesses. When I get into my e-mail or facebook accounts, my time is valuable. I don’t want to have to weed through 100 messages from different consultants trying to sell me something. If I need you, I’ll find you (in my own way) thank you very much!

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 1, 2010 | 2:39 pm

      I guess there’s a balance to this. We need to be someone proactive if we want people to buy from us. But at the same time, there’s a time and a place for asking for the sale. In this case, it just didn’t work. Thanks so much for commenting!

  4. michelle kelley
    November 1, 2010 | 11:32 am

    In this age of “as long as I get mine”, many people have forgotten basic social graces. “If I speak the loudest, people will listen”, “I’m in a hurry”, “That’s just how I am”, etc. We even reward people for bad behavior (have you watched any reality shows lately?). Our politicians can’t even run civilized campaigns. Every time we say “please” and “thank you” or teach a young person to hold the door, we bring a bit of graciousness. Good manners is about making someone feel comfortable – even on the internet.

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 1, 2010 | 2:38 pm

      Very true Michelle, and you’re right: it does come down to manners. I truly believe in my heart that people are well-intentioned. But you always have to think twice before reaching out to someone on someone else’s presence. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Mark Bosworth
    November 1, 2010 | 11:26 am

    The sad part about private messages is that they are not visible to corporate. I know that when someone posts on the company facebook page they are inundated by private communication. However, since I can’t see it I can’t police the behavior.

    I think the real message here is: “it just does not work”.

    I would love to find a way to stop it, but I have not yet found one. Your post is at least a step in the right direction.

    🙂

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 1, 2010 | 2:37 pm

      I know. This is a really tough one Mark. What the company needs to do is just get those messages out there about social media etiquette through training. I’m not sure there’s much more you can do with a situation like this. I suppose the same could be said about email. Always appreciate your comments Mark!

  6. Catherine James
    November 1, 2010 | 11:17 am

    It happens online, but it’s even worse in person. . . I was working to get a Chapter of Houston Work At Home Mom’s up. . . had a lot of people at the meeting, and 3 ladies that were looking for a home based business.

    Immediately everyone “pounced” on these people with their business when they made their intro and announced they were looking for a fit. I immediately put a stop to it, but if the dagger looks were flying my way.

    They had no idea that were turning these ladies off.

    Catherine

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 1, 2010 | 2:36 pm

      WOW that’s unfortunate. We don’t see that too often in real life. Good you stopped it. It’s that kind of stuff that gives the industry as a whole a bad name. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  7. Margo
    November 1, 2010 | 10:38 am

    THANK YOU. This is a great post-I would like to point out another example of this, I guess you could call it “Opportunity Pouncing.” That’s when one of my friends posts on facebook about money being tight that month and all my consultant friends inundate the comment with their “great solution” to her problem. Yeesh. I was almost pounced out of the industry a couple of years ago myself, when the company I represented closed its doors. Fortunately, I already knew which company I wanted to join (and who’s team) but that didn’t stop people accosting me online to join their team for *almost a year.* Being in the industry as long as I have, I’ve observed that people rarely pounce face-to-face. And I’ve never heard anyone say they’ve built a strong team this way. I’d be willing to bet, though, that most pouncers don’t even realize they are pouncing and have good intentions. Thanks so much for shining a light on this nasty little problem!

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 1, 2010 | 2:35 pm

      It’s true Margo. We really have to get out of “desperation mode” if we hope to be successful, both with social media and also in real life! The pounce is really counter-productive! Thanks for commenting!

  8. Jim Everett
    November 1, 2010 | 10:23 am

    Great post Jennifer.

    I recently saw an innocent ‘perspective coaching client’ post in one of my LinkedIn groups that she was looking for a business coach and listed the specialty of the coach she thought would be best for her.

    There were tons of public responses (and I’m sure even more private ones) even after she posted several times in a very courteous manner that she had decided who she would work with. In particular, coaches are supposed to be excellent listeners, but that listening training was immediately hijacked by the adrenaline rush of hearing about a possible client.

    I really felt sorry for the poor woman who had no idea she had just jumped into the shark tank.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and bringing some of this insanity to light.

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 1, 2010 | 10:26 am

      Jim, thanks so much for your comments. You’re right, far too often it becomes a “shark tank” for people who might otherwise become great clients for someone. But we get caught up in “desperation mode” and forget that these are people. We lose all sight of manners! Hopefully we can all take a second to take a deep breath and think before posting.

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