You would think by now that most direct sellers have started a social media presence. Yet the question I get asked more than any other, even today, is “How do I get started?” Sometimes it’s because folks are new to direct sales. Other times, it’s because folks weren’t convinced at first that social media was a good use of time, and are only now deciding to give it a go.
But when you’re new to all of this, the whole field of social media can feel entirely overwhelming. There’s just so much. And if you don’t use it properly, social media can be a ridiculous time waster. No one wants that. After all, you’re in business to make money, not waste time on your computer playing Angry Birds.
So if you’re thinking about setting up a social media presence for your business, or are helping new people on your sales team get started, here are some things you must do to be successful:
- Decide what your goal is, and what you would consider success. If you jump on the computer without knowing what you want social media to do for your business, you’re guaranteed to waste time. So write down what your goal is: Increase sales? Generate new leads? Grow your team? Choose one goal to start, and figure out how you’ll measure it. For example, do you want to increase your sales by 10% through online channels? Create a measurable goal you can work towards.
- Decide how much time you can invest on a daily basis. You must control your time if you don’t want to waste it. So look at your overall schedule, and figure out where you can fit in daily social networking. 20-30 minutes per day is a good start. But it must be daily if you want to build effective relationships, and it must be scheduled. Set a timer for your social networking times, only work on online activities that will help you get closer to your goal, and stop when the timer goes off. This technique ensures that the time you spend online for your business is focused and productive.
- Decide who you want to reach. This is an important step that people often neglect. There are so many people you could reach online. Where will your efforts be best spent? If your goal is recruiting, perhaps you’ll be better off on business-focused social networks. If your goal is to increase sales, you may be better off on consumer-oriented sites like Facebook. By deciding who the best prospects are for your business, then you can go and find them!
- Figure out where the people you want to reach are online. Once you know who you want to reach, then you can figure out where they hang out online. For example, if you sell cooking products, perhaps you’ll want to join an online community for people who love to cook. If you’re not sure where to start, Facebook is often a good choice. It’s where you’ll be able to connect with both your current warm market, and also what I like to call your “extended warm market,” those people who you knew a long time ago, and whom Facebook helps you connect with again. From there, you can find other spots where your target market might be spending time online. But start with one network, and focus on building relationships there. It’s the best way to start.
- Create a meaningful presence for your business in the same online place (or places) that the people you want to do business with already are. Once you know where the folks you want to reach are, you need to join them. This means creating a profile, a business Page, or whatever else the terms of service of the network in question allow. But keep in mind that you must actually become a part of the community. You can’t just join and pitch your products or opportunity without talking to anyone. Social networking works when you enter the spirit of it, which is social. This means sharing your passion, engaging with others, and providing value. Daily interaction is necessary, and you must be prepared to talk about others, not just yourself.
- Engage with people. Regularly. This is the heart of social media, and you must be committed to it if you want to succeed.
- Build your list. This is one thing that people sometimes forget when using social media. All the talking and relationship building is great, but it has to turn into sales or recruits if you want to call it “work.” And that means you need a way to follow up with people. One of the best ways to provide regular follow-up is an online newsletter. So set one up (or use the one your company provides), and then give people a way to sign up for it. This might be on a newsletter tab you set up on your Facebook Page. It might be through your blog or website. But give people a reason to share their contact information with you, and then honor that through providing brief, valuable content on a regular basis.
- Follow up in person or with a phone call whenever possible. This is a biggie. A lot of times we get so accustomed to communicating online we forget what our upline taught us…that an in-person meeting or a phone call trumps an email every day of the week. If someone expresses interest in what you have to offer online, offer a time to connect in person or on the phone. You’re a lot more likely to seal the deal with personal contact than with a digital communication.
So that’s my advice to people getting started with social media. What would you add? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!
This post is the first in a series to answer questions I’m being asked on my Facebook Page. If you’ve got a question about social media, I invite you to like the page and post that question on the Wall of my Facebook Page. I’ll be answering many of them here on the blog.