How NOT to Use Social Media When You're In Direct Sales

I love direct sellers. I really do.  They are some of the most passionate, giving, enthusiastic people that I know. However, one of the occupational hazards of friending a lot of direct sellers online is that those who have not (yet!) taken my social media training for direct sellers still do what I affectionately term the “Sales Swoop” any time they see an opening (and sometimes when they don’t!)

So today’s post is about what NOT to do as a direct seller online in social media.

Done Right! Status Updates Should Inform and Engage

Done Right! Status Updates Should Inform and Engage

Let me preface this by saying that what you SHOULD be doing is providing valuable content online that people appreciate.  You should NOT be a sales pitch.  I love it when people get it right.  One of the ladies I’m friends with on Facebook who happens to be a wine consultant posts wine tips a few times a day as her Facebook status update.  I’m learning the temperature my white wine should be to bring out the flavor.  I laugh at her jokes about how most people age wine for as long as it takes to get it from the store to the glass.  In short, she’s got an audience.  She GETS it.  I know she sells wine.  But she’s not ramming it down my throat, and I look forward to her posts.

So let’s talk about some direct sales faux pas in the online world.

1. If I mention your company or your product, do not swoop down on me and ask if I already have a consultant.  If you really want to know, start a conversation with me.  Get to know me and find out what I like, what my interests are.  Check out my blog and see what I write about.  In short, know me as a person before you try to be my consultant.

2. Don’t provide me with a link to your website the minute I meet you online, because I’ve mentioned anything remotely related to your product line.  I won’t click it.  Instead, I’m more likely than not to ignore you and never click on anything you’ve sent me ever again.  Instead, engage with me.  Say hello.  Share (FREE) resources with me about the interest that I’ve mentioned.  I’m a lot more likely to be interested in what you have to offer when you express an interest in my needs, and try to help me with my needs (without trying to sell me immediately.)

3. Do not make every status update a broadcast about your product.  You may think you’re meeting people’s needs by sharing valuable information about your products, but you’re not.  Instead, you sound like a commercial.  And I like to go get ice cream during commercials, not pay attention to them.  I’d rather get to know YOU in your status updates, and have you get to know me.

4. PLEASE don’t make your logo your avatar.  People in social media want to connect with PEOPLE, not logos.  It’s amazing, but I feel a LOT more connected with those people online who have faces.  When people have a logo up, I have no idea who they are, and I pay less attention.  The people you’re trying to reach will do the same thing.

5. And finally, DON’T sign me up for your newsletter until I do it myself.  Now perhaps this is another occupational hazard of communicating with a lot of direct sellers, as I do for my job.  But my friends, this is actually against the law.  It’s called SPAM if I don’t sign up for it myself.  If I have an interest in your newsletter, rest assured, I know how to find you.  But don’t sign me up without asking first.

Social media can have a dramatic impact on your business.  It can help you connect with people you never could have met before, and can position you as an expert that people turn to for advice and products.  By avoiding the direct sales faux pas I mention above, you will be on the path to success in social media.

What do you think?  Have you experienced the “Sales Swoop?”  Are you a reformed “Sales Swooper?”  Would love to read your comments below!

14 Responses to How NOT to Use Social Media When You're In Direct Sales
  1. Kristie Sloan
    July 30, 2010 | 10:58 pm

    Jennifer,
    Just re-reading some of your posts. You are so right about this. So many people in direct sales have not really grasped how to effectively use some of the social media that is available. You really have some great points I hope many read!

  2. Danny Brown
    May 15, 2009 | 4:26 pm

    It’s really interesting to see advice from someone with a direct sales background. And I mean that with the most respect.

    I think we all too often lump “old school” practitioners into the same boat. Old-school marketers, PR, direct sales, internet marketers – we tend to categorize them as “not getting it”, and class everyone the same.

    As you clearly show, Jen, this is a mistake and something we should learn from. There are good and bad eggs in every industry – we shouldn’t just think that anyone outside the “social media bubble” is doing things wrong.

    Thanks for showing us the other side, so to speak, and I can imagine people sitting in on your training will learn an amazing amount of insight.

  3. Cheap Postcard Print
    May 12, 2009 | 2:04 am

    Thanks for sharing this really inspired article! I love your insight on social media and direct marketing. I definitely agree with what you said, content is key to effective sales. Without making it seem like a sales pitch at all is a practice in excellent writing. Looking forward to more of your really helpful posts!

  4. Eleanor
    May 8, 2009 | 8:09 pm

    :0) Social Media Marketing is great for building relationships. you can go do a search in twitter for different direct sales companies and alot of consultants are falling into this trap, making it about them and their needs not their clients. Those consultants that take the initiative to educate themselves will have great success using social media marketing.

    Again Jennifer you are right on the money..

  5. yvonnenc
    May 7, 2009 | 9:34 am

    Another great article! Social Media Tools are new to me and it’s great hearing your advice. As beginners we make mistakes and articles such as yours help us make the needed changes in our business. Thank you for sharing these helpful tips.
    Yvonne Deatherage

  6. funfelt
    May 7, 2009 | 12:32 am

    Two thumbs up! Thanks for saying what’s been on my (and sounds like other people’s) mind!
    Karen Clark

  7. Carolyn Muston
    May 6, 2009 | 7:33 pm

    Loved this article.. I’m still new to all this social networking, and this is great advice.

    Thank You

  8. Carol Kaufman
    May 6, 2009 | 11:11 am

    Thanks for another great article! I appreciate all your articles as I learn how to use Social Media.

  9. Eryn Cadoff
    May 6, 2009 | 10:02 am

    This is awesome Jennifer! I always look forward to your articles. And I have to tell you, this summer at TTV’s Harvest (annual conference), I will be speaking on the topic of using Social Media in your TTV business. I think you might have just written my talk here! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Eryn Cadoff
    Ind. Wine Consultant
    The Traveling Vineyard
    Gainesville, Virginia

  10. Lorri Fuller
    May 6, 2009 | 9:55 am

    Great article. I definitely agree. I have quite a few friends on Facebook and they are all saying the same thing. One puts it up and the other cuts and pastes. Their posts are now starting to be annoying instead of informative. They are definitely shoving the recruiting part of their opportunity down everyone’s throat. I will definitely heed your advice and not make the same mistake.

  11. Cindy
    May 6, 2009 | 9:30 am

    excellent business tips. everyone feels better when you try to get to know them first.

  12. Richard Allan Marti Jr
    May 6, 2009 | 9:27 am

    Great article – The best clients come from referral, from people who “know” you. Social media tools allow potential customers get to know and trust you. Imagine how much more effective your “sales” will be when it is client initiated “buy” from someone they trust.

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