One of the things I often hear from the direct sellers I work with is how overwhelming the thought of diving into social media is. Won’t it take a tremendous amount of time? And there are SO MANY social networks that we’re hearing about! How will you and your team ever find time to book, sell, or recruit if you’re spending time doing social media marketing??? And guess what? Direct selling companies are worried about the same thing. It takes a lot of time to set up an effective corporate social media presence, and if they start providing social media training and support for the field, will everyone stop selling and recruiting?
The good news is that you don’t have to do everything to have an effective social media presence for your direct selling business. And if you use your time strategically, the time you do invest can translate into sales and recruits. The key is planning, and time management.
So here’s how to make an effective social media plan (whether you’re a company or an independent direct seller) that will bring you maximum benefits with a smaller investment of time. (Keep in mind I’m simplifying this a bit for companies. You really need to do a strategic planning session to maximize your use of social media, and you need to staff your plan effectively.)
- Decide what your goal is. New recruits? Reorders? Brand recognition? Knowing your objective is critical if you’re going to effectively communicate through social media. Social media marketing is the process of communicating a message about your brand that you hope will result in a conversion (sales, recruits, etc.) So you need to know what you hope to achieve through your marketing efforts, before you do anything else.
- Decide what your message is. Social media marketing is about communicating a message. You should be able to communicate your main message in a sentence or two. So perhaps it’s “I offer an opportunity that provides people with the chance to enhance people’s lives and well-being nutritionally, while at the same time focusing on their family priorities.” Whatever your message is, that will inform all of your social media marketing efforts. A message like the one above tells you that you’ll be providing links to articles on work/life balance, talking about ways to stay healthy, sharing ways a home-based business can make a difference in a person’s relationship with their family, etc. Start with the message, and extrapolate from there.
- Decide who your market is. The message that you share must be consistently relevant to the followers you gather. So decide ahead of time who you want to connect with, and what’s important to them. What problems do they have collectively that you can help solve with your message? You can’t communicate effectively if you don’t understand the needs of the people you’re connecting with, so decide that up front, and you’ll have a lot more success with your social media marketing efforts.
- Plan your resources. How much time can realistically be invested in a social media marketing campaign? If you’re a company, you should be spending a minimum of 4 hours per day to be effective (since you have a much larger message to communicate.) If you’re an individual direct seller, your main job is selling and recruiting, so you shouldn’t be spending hours every day on social media marketing. Rather, a targeted amount of time spent on a few pre-selected activities will help you make much better use of your time. By investing just 20-30 minutes per day, and scheduling that time in your planner, you can put into place an effective social media marketing plan. Before you can choose the tools you’ll use, you must identify how much time you can realistically invest. You don’t need to use every tool that’s out there. Instead, use fewer tools effectively, and you’ll have a much better chance at achieving good results.
- Select your tools. Once you know how much time you can invest, then it’s time to select your tools. One thing I often advise direct sellers to do is focus on those tools with the most users. It’s a basic rule of sales…the more people you talk to, the more likely it is that you’ll find people to buy (or join). So choose those tools that give you access to the most people. For example, I always recommend that direct sellers and direct sales companies start with Facebook. How you use Facebook is based on your individual objectives for your business, but I believe that every direct seller needs a presence on Facebook. After all, if Facebook was a country, it would be the 4th largest in the world. It is an absolute certainty that there are people on Facebook who are interested in your product or opportunity. You just need to share it with them (but not spam them!)
- Plan your campaigns. Finally, figure out what you plan to highlight throughout the year as part of your overall business. What specials, events, campaigns, etc should be promoted at various points in the year? Then, plan how your social media presence can be used to support those efforts. I like to say that social media does not exist in a bubble. Rather, it’s part of an overall marketing plan that includes many activities you’re already doing. Social media just enhances those efforts.
- Implement! Once the planning is done, then you can put your social media marketing campaigns into place. This means building relationships, interacting daily, and sharing your message in a non-spammy way.
There are many components that go into a social media marketing plan, and by putting into place those that make the most sense for your business, given the time that you have, you can be effective. As an independent direct seller, your job is not to sit in front of the computer all day long. Instead, plan the activities ahead of time that will best promote your business, and during your scheduled social media marketing time, do those things you’ve planned. (aka This is not the time to play Farmville.) As a company, investing the proper resources, making a plan ahead of time, and determining your objectives (instead of saying everyone else has a Facebook page so we need one too) will help you justify the ROI of setting up a social media presence, and investing those resources.
Social media marketing takes time, but it is not a time suck when used strategically. The key is making a plan, so that every effort you put forward counts, and ultimately brings results.
Photo Credit: Aaron Geller